Blog Posts by Yahoo! Contributor Network

  • Organization Tips for a Shared Family Bathroom

    Of all the areas in our homes, bathrooms are some of the hardest to keep clean, and this is even harder to do - and more important - when you have kids. A kid-friendly bathroom should never be chaotic or messy and, in fact, if you develop a routine and stick with it, your kids are more likely to do the same.

    Here are the best ways to go about making your family bathroom easy to use and keep clean.

    Use medicine cabinets, drawers and shelves effectively. Color-code hairbrushes, combs and toothbrushes. Everyone gets a color, and there's no arguing over whose toothbrush was left on the countertop. I can't tell you how much trouble this has saved me when organizing toiletries for my three kids. If you have enough drawers for each child, assign one to each for toiletry items like brushes and combs. Otherwise, purchase a bin or washable carry case for them to store these items.

    If your children are older, they'll appreciate the use of a separate organizer for skin cleaners, astringents,

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  • Multitasking Mom's Guide to a Last-Minute Sleepover

    Sleepovers don't have to be stressful!

    Preparing for a sleepover can seem like a daunting task. After all, you're the adult host of a horde of kids who just know it's going to be a great night full of fun and games! It doesn't have to be as complicated as you might think, however.

    Follow these easy steps for a stress-free, last-minute sleepover.
    1. Lay out rules! It's your home, and you're the adult. Make sure your guests know the routine, what time is lights-out, and whether or not you allow certain video games or movies in your home. In my house, for example, we don't allow any phone calls after 9 p.m., sleepovers or not. We make sure everyone knows this ahead of time. Set boundaries, be firm about it, and you'll all be able to enjoy your evening that much better.

    2. Make sure each parent has your contact info and you have theirs before kids are left in your care. You never know when someone will forget their medicine or need a goodnight from mom, and it's inevitable that if someone's going to get a scraped knee, Read More »from Multitasking Mom's Guide to a Last-Minute Sleepover
  • Indoor Workouts for the Whole Family

    Encourage your kids to participate in active video games.

    It can be hard to stay active when the weather outside is dark and gloomy. Working out indoors often seems like the only solution, not only for myself, but for my children, too. How can I make sure that my entire family is active when the weather isn't cooperating? These indoor workouts will entertain children of all ages when you've got energy to burn.

    Video games

    No longer the stagnant video games of my youth, today's video game systems encourage players to get up and move. Whether you're participating in a dance competition, bowling, or even doing jumping jacks as part of a fitness program, modern video game systems are a great choice to help your family stay active when you're stuck inside the house. Turn participation into a competition (adults vs. the kids tends to work well in our home) with a prize for some added incentive.

    Races

    Toilet paper races, egg races, and seeing how far you can skid in your socks across the front hallway are all fun activities that can

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  • Best Kids Books for Potty Training

    Use potty training books to help your child.While the thought of potty training fills me - a mom of a two year old - with dread, I want my child to have positive associations with it, viewing potty training as a major step and accomplishment on the road to becoming a big kid. One great way to motivate your child and help them form positive associations with potty training is to introduce kids books that talk to them, on their level, about this intriguing new subject. Here are five of the best kids books for potty training:

    1. My Big Boy Potty by Joanna Cole. The best parts of this book, though numerous, include the engaging illustrations, simple explanations, and how the author makes it easy for your child to relate to the main character, Michael.

    2. My Big Girl Potty by Joanna Cole. Also making the list of best potty training books for kids is Cole's alternate version of this book, a perfect fit for little girls learning to use the potty, who get to follow along as the main character, Ashley, earns her big girl underpants.

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  • 4 Healthy Crockpot Recipes for Every Week in January

    Use that crockpot!

    We all want to serve easy, nutritional meals to our families without having to sacrifice quality time. One way to accomplish this is by dusting off your slow cooker and putting it back into service. Crockery slow cookers are a smart way to save time in the kitchen. And with just a few adjustments here and there, we can turn our one-pot recipes into healthy choices the whole family will enjoy. Here are some great ideas and recipes to get you started.

    The Benefits of Crockpot Cooking

    Temperature - You can't watch much of the Food Network or Cooking Channel without hearing the phrase "low and slow." That's the secret to why food cooked in your crockpot tastes so wonderful. Ultra low cooking temperatures keep food safe while allowing your protein to absorb the flavors of its cooking liquid.

    Economy - Another advantage of slow cooking is that by cooking meats slowly, it allows the collagen to break down into a rich, sumptuous gelatin. This tenderizes the meat and allows you to

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  • Looking Your Best when You're Under the Weather

    Freshen up with makeup even when you're feeling sick.

    When you're stuck at home with the flu or just aren't feeling like yourself, take good care of yourself by freshening up your appearance. Even though you might not be feeling 100 percent on the inside, a few updates on the outside can help you feel a little better and help you get through those tough days of recovery. Making sure you take your time to get better is essential. You might need more sleep or naps than usual, will need to drink more fluids, and will also need to eat healthy and nutritious meals to get your energy back.

    Try some of these tips for looking your best when you're under the weather:

    Keep Tissues on Hand

    Take care of a stuffy nose or watery eyes by stocking up on plenty of tissues for the bedroom, living areas, and your car. Keep tissues on hand for those mini-emergencies so you don't have to keep running to the restroom. Use moisturizer-infused tissues to prevent your skin from chafing and flaking.

    Freshen Up with Makeup

    A little bit of

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  • 4 Backpack Necessities for Kids with Colds

    Make sure your child's backpack is stocked for cold season.

    Achoo! Achoo! Sniff, sniff. With cold and flu season almost upon us, I've already started to hear those dreaded sounds coming from my children. In my house, it's never just one child with a cold, either. One child passes the cold on to another who passes it to Mom or Dad who passes it to another child who passes it to the remaining parent. This is when the cycle starts all over again. Managing kids with colds is a fine science-we keep our house, and their backpacks, well stocked with what we need to give the kids a (cold) fighting chance.

    Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer

    We've learned that it's a good idea to keep a small bottle of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer in my daughters' backpack during the school year. If possible, look for a keychain bottle that you can hang from your child's backpack so that you don't need to worry about spills. Encourage your child to use the hand sanitizer after they cough or sneeze, if they forget to wash their hands after using the bathroom, and

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  • Home Spa Ideas for Moms and Daughters

    Set up a nail-painting station.Every girl likes to be pampered, and your daughter is likely no exception. Having a spa night at home with your favorite girl is a fun and relaxing way to spend an evening, and doesn't have to cost very much. With a few simple ideas and some easy preparation, you and your daughter can enjoy a calming night at home, while you chat, bond and get pretty in the process.

    Here are a few ways you can turn your home into your very own mini-spa:

    Set the mood -- If possible, try to send your spouse and other children out for the evening so distractions can be at a minimum. Turn the lights down, light a few scented candles and select some soothing music. My 11-year-old daughter suggests downloading apps on your phone or music player that allow you to play relaxing sounds, like waves crashing or rain falling. Or, you could opt for more upbeat selections -- remember, you want to relax, not fall asleep!

    Get comfy -- Get into your fluffiest robe and slippers, or slide on a pair of sweat pants or

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  • Bedtime Tips when the Whole Family is Sick

    Bedtime can be difficult when everyone is sick.From headaches to tummy aches, fevers to flu, when kids get sick, parents kick into gear. We know that when our child is sick, the one thing they need the most is plenty of bed rest. This is easy to do when one family member is down for the count, but what about when the whole family is sick?

    When mom and dad, as well as the kids, are under the weather, keeping a consistent family bedtime routine is not easy. Here are five tips to manage bedtime and ensure everyone - kids and parents - all get the rest they need:

    1. Plan ahead for bedtime - Depending on your child's age, prepare them to be as self-sufficient as possible. Gather a nest of materials around them before bed, including tissues, ice water, a trash can, or any other items they may need. Prepare books, magazines, the remote control, or other items within reach, so that they can keep themselves entertained if they wake up early, without disturbing other family members still sleeping.

    2. Switch bedrooms when needed
    - When the

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  • 8 Prep-ahead Dishes for Your Holiday Dinner

    French onion soup can be prepared in advance.

    There's a lot to look forward to on Christmas Day, but spending hours in the kitchen isn't one of them. Why not break up your Christmas dinner preparation into two days and leave yourself more time to enjoy the holiday with your family? Many of the traditional holiday dishes can be prepped the day before to greatly reduce your kitchen time on the big day. In fact, for many dishes, allowing that extra day for flavors to develop and meld can make them taste even better. Here are some smart, healthy versions of America's favorite holiday sides and desserts to keep you out of the kitchen and with your family where you belong.

    1. French Onion Soup

    French onion soup is a favorite first course for my family, and is a great choice for cold and flu season. Did you know that onions are high in flavonoids and vitamin C? These boost the immune system to help ward off colds. This recipe substitutes the butter for the healthier fats found in olive oil. It also uses less cheese than

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