Low cost school holiday ideas – How to keep the kids entertained on a budgetAhh school holidays – fun for kids, but not always so much for adults! First there’s the work versus looking-after-your-kids juggle. Then there’s the challenge of keeping the kids entertained for several weeks without going broke. And what’s more, you have to face multiple times each year.

I’ve come up with a list of fun school holiday ideas that are low-cost, and that will get the kids actively involved in entertaining themselves. There’s a mix of indoor and outdoor pursuits for all kinds of weather, and I’ve included art, science, technology and movement to suit all tastes. Enjoy!

Science Experiments

Kid’s science has absolutely exploded in popularity in recent years…and I think that’s a great thing! While the results can be messy (get prepared with plastic table cloths and aprons), kids learn so much from hands-on experiments, and there’s a whole heap of things you can do using common household supplies.

A quick search of Google or YouTube will bring up a whole host of slime recipes and other experiments. Here are two super-easy recipes to get you started:

The Ultimate Fail-Safe Slime Recipe

There are now so many variations of slime out there, but some give varying results. This recipe is pretty much fool-proof, and a great one to start off with.

  • In a medium sized bowl, mix 1 cup of PVA glue, ¾ cup cold water, and a few drops of food colouring.
  • In another small bowl, dissolve 1 tsp borax powder in ½ cup of warm water.
  • Pour the borax mix into the glue mix, while stirring. Voila, instant slime!

Vinegar Volcanoes

  • Fill a glass jar ½ full with white vinegar. Add a few cups of food colouring for effect (and glitter if you like).
  • Stir in a heaped spoon-full of bicarbonate of soda and watch the liquid bubble out.
  • Try again, this time fist stirring a squirt of dishwashing liquid into the vinegar. Notice how the volcano froths for longer.

Magic Tricks

Get your kids to teach themselves magic tricks, and then perform a show for you. Keep an eye out in local holiday programs for magic trick workshops, or head to YouTube to find ‘how to’ tutorials. A great place to start is the EvenEraTV channel. Here’s a trick that’s an easy starting point for your budding magician.

The Rubber Pencil

This trick is purely an optical illusion, and only requires the use of a pencil.

  • Hold your pencil close to the end (where the eraser is). Maintain a loose grip between your thumb and index finger.
  • Move your hand up and down, letting the pencil shake up and down also, until the pencil appears ‘bendy’. This takes a bit of practice to get just the right hand movement, but it’s impressive once you do.

Art & Craft

If you have a crafty streak yourself, you might like to work on a project with your kids. But if not, there are a wide range of kits available that the kids can work on themselves. Beaded jewellery, dram catchers, card-making, simple tapestry and model aeroplanes are just some of the things they can try, and don’t require overly expensive supplies.

Make A Movie

It seems everyone wants to be a YouTube star! Even if your kids don’t, they will probably love making their own movie just for fun. This can be as filming and editing it on your phone, or as sophisticated as creating and acting out a script using a tripod or cameraman, then editing it on your computer and uploading it to YouTube. Chances are, your kid will know how to do all this better than you. But if they don’t, head to YouTube to search out how. At the end of it all, you can even make popcorn and enjoy watching the final result together on your TV.

Just be sure to check footage and supervise any uploading onto social media.

Scavenger Hunt

Set your kids a challenge to collect a list of items, then send them off outside on a scavenger hunt. You can keep this within your garden or local park, collecting items such as ‘the biggest leaf’ and ‘a smooth pebble’, or send them off further afield to take photos of particular locations.

Give each child a check-list of items (or things to photograph), a bag to collect them and a pen to tick the list off. You can set a time limit, and even award prizes for the most items collected.

Rock Finding

This is an activity that has recently exploded in popularity, and is a great way to encourage your kids to take a stroll outside. In a nutshell, people paint rocks and then leave them for others to find. When you find a rock, you take a picture, share it on Facebook and re-hide. And of course, your kids can start off by painting and hiding their own rocks.

Rocks are often hidden around children’s playgrounds, and you can check for locations in your local suburb on Facebook. Just search your state and the word ‘rocks’ on Facebook (eg: VIC ROCKS, NSW ROCKS), and then search for your suburb within the group.

Ninja Warrior Course

With the success of Ninja Warrior TV shows, kids are loving testing out their innate ninja skills. Get them burning off some energy with their own course in the backyard or local park. Get them to select equipment and set up their own course with your supervision, then run time trials and competitions amongst their friends – or just leave them to it (once you’re happy that everyone can get through the course safely).

See what you can find around the house to use as obstacles, and incorporate any existing play equipment. For example, hula hoops are great for jumping through or hopping across on the ground; a plank of wood makes a balance beam; a pile of cushions creates a safe hurdle. You can also create a ‘laser-maze’ by criss-crossing thin rope between tent-pegs banged into the ground. Search ‘kids obstacle course ideas ‘ for more inspiration.

 

Written by Julian Bull Kids magician Sydney 

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How Can Busy Working Mums Keep Their Home Offices PerfectBeing a mum is a huge (but sweet) fulltime job on its own, and if you have to incorporate your actual job into the picture, sometimes things can get out of hand. Your home office might get a bit neglected when it comes to cleanliness and organisation if you don’t have enough time to put it on your cleaning schedule. However, if you employ some of these organisational and decorating techniques, your office will always be spotless and ready for your next big business adventure.

Declutter and declutter some more

It’s scientifically proven that clutter has a negative effect on our productivity and focus. Additionally, it’s a huge waste of time when you have to dig through piles of garbage in search of the thing you need. So, don’t let the clutter get the best of you, but keep your documents, office supplies and electronics at a minimum. Toss everything that’s outdated, broken or unnecessary and keep only the things you truly need.

How Can Busy Working Mums Keep Their Home Offices PerfectClean out your computer

Your desk isn’t the only thing that needs decluttering. If you keep piling up documents on your computer, it will eventually become so cluttered and slow that you’ll barely manage to find what you’re looking for. Instead, make a habit of conducting weekly or monthly deletions and come up with a good filing system. Also, make sure to always have all your important files backed up online or on any type of external storage unit.

How Can Busy Working Mums Keep Their Home Offices PerfectMaximise on storage

If you don’t want to invest in a professional filing cabinet, that’s fine. You can easily store all your docs, folders and office supplies in cheap, yet stylish containers and baskets. They will help you with decluttering and you’ll always know exactly where to look for things. Not enough floor space? By utilising your vertical space with practical shelves, you’ll gain additional storage space that will not take away any of the square footage.

How Can Busy Working Mums Keep Their Home Offices PerfectLabel it

A good label maker can literally save your life, especially if you’re not the best organiser in the world. If you often tend to forget where you’ve placed certain files or items, labels will come in super handy. Put them on your containers, drawers, baskets and binders and you’ll always have everything under control.

How Can Busy Working Mums Keep Their Home Offices PerfectOrganise your electronics

Bulky printers and copy machines never look attractive. However, if you have wireless technology, you don’t have to keep them in the open to disturb your office design. Instead, put them in a closed cabinet. This way, they will be at your disposal, but away from your precious desk space. Also, take care of your ugly and hazardous cables. The best way to hide and organise your cables is to stack them against the wall and use cable ties, clamps or tubes. Keep them away from the open area, because they not only look ugly but are a great tripping risk and you don’t want your kids to get a hold of them.

How Can Busy Working Mums Keep Their Home Offices PerfectIntroduce a couch to your space

If you enjoy working from home because of the relaxed atmosphere it provides, you’ll love a comfy couch in your office. Comfy couches can make any space look more stylish and cosy, but they are also quite useful office elements. If you’re seeing clients, they will have a soft spot to relax in and if you need a place to stretch your back, you don’t need to leave your office. Also, if your little ones insist on spending time in mummy’s office, they will have a cosy place for naps and lounging.

How Can Busy Working Mums Keep Their Home Offices PerfectBe moderate with decoration

Even though the whole point of having a home office is to achieve a more personal work experience, going overboard with the decoration, especially family photos and mementoes, is never a good idea. However, having one framed photo of your family can be a great motivator and will always give you strength to push forward. Also, inspirational art and a few intricate decorative elements will show your creative side and make your office more attractive both to you and your clients. As you can see, your home office can easily become a place of great inspiration and business success. The key is in staying organised, tidy and making your office attractive and cosy and awesome business ideas will simply flow. Good luck Super Mum!

 

How Can Busy Working Mums Keep Their Home Offices Perfect

 

Catherine Collins, Smoothdecorator

 

Catherine is a passionate home design consultant and a regular contributor to the Smoothdecorator blog who loves making homes beautiful and thus, lives easier.

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5 Time-Saving Tips for Busy MumsBalancing your work and family life is never simple, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make things a little easier for yourself. Use these handy tips to streamline your daily tasks and gain valuable free time.

Whenever possible, prepare the night before

Mornings with children are a chaotic time, and you often end up with even less of it than you think. Save yourself from unnecessary stress by preparing whatever you can the night before. This means lunches, outfits, work materials, school bags, and your own bags.

If you take some time every Sunday, or whatever day works for you to sit down and plan your meals for the week, prep what you need to and cook what you can, this will drastically improve your dinner time routine. This will spare up some time for you to spend some time with the family, or whatever else you may have planned.

Set aside a time slot for chores and errands

It can feel overwhelming to watch as your household chores and mundane tasks slowly pile up. Instead of constantly worrying about staying on top of things, carve out a dedicated time slot each week to tackle your errands head on.

Contrary to many mums’ fears, quick fixes can usually get you through the week until you have time to do everything properly. Having a designated “chore time” will also help you to stay focused on more important tasks throughout the week and maximise your productivity.

5 Time-saving Tips for Busy MumsSpend less time cooking

Feeding yourself (and your family) is one of those endless, inescapable facts of adult life. Save yourself precious time by developing smarter cooking habits.

Focus on recipes which require less hands-on attention, for example, dishes which can bake, simmer, roast, or sit in a slow cooker for long periods of time. Making enough food to last several days is another easy way to reduce your workload throughout the week.

If deciding what to have dinner often ends in a screaming match, then you need a way to make this decision making process a more exciting experience for the whole family. There are a bunch of interactive apps and sites that will allow everyone to get involved.

Some of my favourites include the Kraft iFood Assistant, the Flavour Generator and Epicurious, but there are several options out there so do your research. This is a great way to get the kids involved, making dinner time a family affair!

Recognise when outsourcing makes sense

Try as you might, you just can’t do everything yourself. Though it might be well within your abilities to take care of the garden, sweep the gutters, clean the pool, and sort out that weird connectivity issue with the TV, these are all time-intensive tasks that can easily be outsourced.

Even if the cost of outsourcing a task is equal to the amount of money you’d earn in that time, this will save you precious physical and mental energy, which can lead to greater happiness in the long run.

Master an easy everyday look

We all like to look and feel good, but for those aiming to get lots done, it’s best not to spend too much time getting ready to face the day.

Try to avoid haircuts that require lots of styling to look good, and (if it’s your thing) master the art of developing a quick and easy makeup routine.

Of course, there are still occasions to spend as much time as you want getting dressed up, but your everyday routine shouldn’t be one of them.

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

5 Time-Saving Tips for Busy MumsAlex Johnson, Inspire A Better Life

Alex is a 23 year old lover of life, brunch & adventure. After moving to Sydney when finishing a journalism degree, he began his blog Inspire A Better Life to positively influence others to get out there and see all life has to offer. Join Alex as he discovers this life one day at a time, documenting his thoughts and other along the way!

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About the author: Callum is the head of marketing at Warble Media. They are a boutique folding-map-360382_640website design and digital marketing agency based in Dubbo, NSW, Australia.

A strategic business plan or road map is essential for success. I’m sure you’re used to planning family meals, your kid’s after school activities, and the intricacies of juggling home and work life.

The same planning needs to be applied to your business. A clear direction will not only help you get from A to B, but also navigate the ups and downs in between. Whether you’re new to business or a seasoned entrepreneur, it’s never too early or too late to create a road map to business success. Here’s how to go about it:

Setting your goals

A road map doesn’t have to be a 50-page document full of business jargon. It’s one of the reasons so many business owners fail to put a plan on paper, often overlooking the importance of proper planning and organisation.

So start with jotting down your main goals. Where do you want your business to go? What are your goals for the next year? How about the next five years? This is the perfect place to challenge yourself and dream big.

It doesn’t matter if your goals change over time, but it’s always good to know where you’re headed from the start.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. OK, so here is a little business jargon, but something that’s very useful for analysing where you are financially, systematically, and operationally.

Assess any gaps there may be in your business or Big Idea. Can you work on developing new skills? Should you shift your time, effort, or resources elsewhere? Would adopting different habits help tackle any weaknesses you’ve identified?

These are all questions you should ask yourself in order to determine where you are and help close some of the gaps.

Understanding your target market

This is one of the most important things to focus on when you’re creating a roadmap to success. It’s essential to understand your market (and your competitors) in order to create a strong marketing plan and offer customers what they’re really looking for.

Holding on to an idea or product which doesn’t attract your target market will probably end badly. Some of the most successful companies in the world, such as Apple and Lego, started off producing very different products to the ones they’re famous for now.

Understanding your customers means you can keep adapting to their ever changing needs, so keep checking back to your plan to ensure you’re satisfying your target market.

Outsourcing and delegating

You may have started off by taking on all the company roles yourself, but to increase efficiency and avoid burnouts, you’ll need to implement a team to support you as you grow.

Consider whether you’ll want to bring in new employees or outsource jobs such as bookkeeping, sales, administration, and social media management. Having an idea of the support systems you’ll need from the beginning will streamline the process once you get to this stage.

Don’t be afraid of Plan B

Every business will encounter problems at some point. Foreseeing problem areas will give you the chance to think about solutions before they hit you by surprise. For instance, how would your business handle a crash in the market? How would your business cope if you fell ill?

Being prepared, open to change, and adapting to your circumstances will give you the best tools to stay on the road to success. Making this part of your business strategy will allow you to check back on your ideas any time you like, and of course, add new ones as you learn and your business grows.

As I mentioned earlier, some of the biggest brands made pivotal changes to adapt to the market, so don’t be afraid to have a Plan B and implementing it if necessary.
Celebrate milestones, learn from mistakes

Keep checking back on your objectives. Have you achieved your weekly goals? Then reflect on what’s gone well and celebrate that success. If you’ve fallen short, learn from your mistakes and adjust your course if you feel it’s needed.

Following a road map is as much about going forward as it is looking back. Check you’re fulfilling your objectives, ensure you’re staying true to your vision, and identify errors if you’re failing to meet your goals.

Conclusion

A strategic plan will help keep you focused, define your company values, and chart your direction for growth. Ideally, you should be revisiting it every quarter to check where you are with your goals, but if this seems unmanageable, try at least once a year.

Remember this isn’t a one time thing. You can keep coming back to your plan and adjusting your course as necessary. Success may not come overnight, but having a strategic plan will definitely help you get the results you’re looking for.

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I do chuckle looking back at my pre child self, I had no idea how the sleep deprivation was going to hit me. Before becoming a parent, I used to say to my business friends with kids, “Can’t you just do your business mindset in the middle of the night to make the best use of your time”? or “Why don’t you just work every night when the kids are in bed?”. Now I know why they laughed at me!

Image 1Our sleep thief

Our little Sleep Thief Oliver greeted us 5 weeks earlier than expected, and although a healthy premature baby, he had his hurdles to overcome. Even when he turned 9 months, he was still up at least 4 times a night and we were lucky if he napped for 30 minutes a day. So you can imagine, the sort of sleepless state I was in; exhausted, frustrated and low are words that spring to mind.

How things changed
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However after 9 months of severe sleep deprivation, I was at breaking point and close to a M.E. relapse and this is where it all changed for us. We decided we needed professional help, so we hired a Sleep Consultant and the rest you can say is history. Within just 2 weeks, Oliver was sleeping through the night and sleeping for 2-3 hours a day.

The improvement in his sleep was so life changing for us as a family, I knew I wanted to help other families going through similar stressful situations. So off to London I went to retrain in Advanced Sleep Consultancy and now I help sleep deprived parents to help their children of all ages to enjoy better sleep.

I’ve put together these six simple survival steps for you, so that you can maximise your business productivity whilst being sleep deprived

Prioritise sleep
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Naturally as a business mum you are ambitious, driven and motivated. These qualities have so many positives for your business yet the reality is suddenly you are running yourself into the ground squeezing work in whenever you can.

If you are not in the position to take time off once you have had your baby or have an older child, the best thing you can do for your business right now is set yourself realistic expectations and boundaries.

Go back to school days, set yourself a timetable and make rest and sleep time your first priority over worktime where possible. This may seem counterproductive to start with but it is amazing the amount you can get done in a small amount of time when you have had some rest in comparison to having extra time and working with a fuzzy head and tired eyes.

Observe your negative chatter
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Most of my clients have said that before reaching out for professional help, their mornings consisted of dreading the day ahead, drinking as much coffee as possible, and feeling exhausted before the working day had even started.

Often the sleepless negativity mindset affects key areas of your life, such as your relationships, overall well-being and business productivity. For this reason, I recommend that all my clients practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the practice of being mindful and aware in the moment, observing your thoughts whilst not passing judgement on them. Being mindful allows you to develop resilience towards the sleep deprived negative mind chat.

The easiest way my clients have found to practice mindfulness is through the app Headspace, the app is free and allows you to use “Take 10” – 10 days of mindfulness. However I highly recommend you subscribe as you can access packs relating to sleep and I love the one specifically for children.

Who can help?
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As an ambitious and motivated business mum, it is very easy to believe you can take on the world, however I have come to learn that being realistic with your time not only saves you stress but also helps you to focus on high income generated tasks.

It is easy to feel like you are failing when you ask for help, but just remember your top priority right now is looking after yourself so you can keep spinning the plates of super mum and business woman. Everything else has to come lower down the list.

Take a look at your endless to do list, what is there on it you can delegate to someone else? Whether this be a loved one, family member, a friend or hired help. Examples of delegation which my clients find useful are laundry, ironing, housework, child care, cooking, gardening and walking the dog.

My husband and I hired a cleaner for just 1 hour a week when Oliver was not sleeping. This extra time allowed me to rest if I needed it or to use the time wisely (if Oliver was taking one of his rare 20 minute naps) to earn more than what we were paying the cleaner so that it was financially beneficial.

Bedtime routine isn’t just for children
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I recommend that you also follow a bedtime routine every evening. This ensures that you get to bed on time in preparation for a broken night’s sleep and also gives your body and mind time to wind down from the busy life of parenting.

Set yourself a regular bedtime and enjoy a 30-45 minute routine where you do some gentle exercise such as yoga, pilates or stretching, read a book that is not business related or stimulating, start a “What’s been awesome today” book where you write everything positive that has happened and enjoy a warm bath. It doesn’t matter if this is segmented if your child wakes early evening, the idea here is to swap watching T.V. or scrolling social media to a routine which allows you to take yourself to the mind gym.

Invest to transform your life

Startup Stock Photos
I guess it is difficult for me to write about this tip without seeming biased, but investing in a professional sleep consultant completely transformed our lives. I’ve gone from being an exhausted, helpless, sleepless business mum who was trying to squeeze in work wherever I could to now being full of energy, positivity and having an extra 2 hours a day for business work. Which is magic when you are running a business around being a full time parent of under twos. However, more importantly my health is back on track and without that I wouldn’t have a viable business to run.

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Are you feeling confused about everything you have read online and have no idea where to start to help your child sleep better? Feel free to download my Free EbookSix Core Steps to Sleep Success” for free advice on taking your first steps to reaching your ultimate sleep goal.

 

 

 

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Kathryn Stimpson
Kathryn helps sleep deprived parents to cope, manage and improve their sleep challenges.

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