Self Care

15 Realistic Tips to Lessen Screen Time for You and Your Family

It’s fairly common knowledge now that too much screen time is unhealthy for a wide variety of reasons. According to the Nielsen research group, American adults now spend “more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media.” If we assume 6-7 hours of sleep in a 24 hour day, that leaves just 6-7 hours of time daily with no screen interaction. Yikes! This shows how addicted and reliant we have become to our screens, and that can’t possibly be a good thing. For kids, it’s even more important that screen time be limited. But how to go about it without going cold turkey? We’ve created a list of practical, realistic tips on how to lessen screen time for you and your family.

1.   Keep track of your screen time.

Smartphones let you check your screen time daily and weekly usage, as well as your number of pickups. Not sure how? Here’s how to do so on Apple devices, as well as on Android, which also has a feature called Digital Wellbeing to help you use your phone in a healthier, more balanced manner. You may be shocked to find, for instance, that you are picking up your phone 58 times a day (the average). Don’t forget to track screen time usage for computers, tablets, game consoles, and televisions—these all count as screens.

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7 Signs of Unhealthy Shopping Habits

Everyone shops. We all need the basics in life, right? Food, shelter, clothing, etc. It’s the “etc.” part that presents a wide range when it comes to shopping habits. While there are many amusing adages about shopping—”Shop til you drop,” “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness…,” and “Shopping is my cardio” are a few that come to mind—for some it has become an unhealthy situation, both mentally, physically, and financially. It is called a few different things: “shopaholism”, “Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD)” or “oniomania”. Not sure if you are just guilty of the occasional splurge, or if you need help to rein in your spending? You’re not alone. Read on for 7 signs of unhealthy shopping habits…and some real talk on how you can change them.

1. You browse or shop online as a source of entertainment or happiness.

Got some time to kill, so you open your Amazon app or spend a couple of hours at the mall. We’re all guilty of the occasional “retail therapy”. However, if this is how you always fill your spare time and the result is a constant influx bags and boxes of stuff you don’t really need, then it is definitely not a healthy habit. Give yourself better options to spend that valuable free time. Schedule regular coffee or walk dates with a friend. Go to the library—browsing and borrowing is free! Sign up for an online class. Basically, fill up that space with options that do not indulge those shopping urges.

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10 Simple Things to be Grateful For

It’s been a life-changing couple of years for all of us, hasn’t it? We can’t think of a single person who was not affected by the pandemic in some way or another. It seems we’ve all had to make changes, reprioritize, adjust, pivot, and sometimes, just deal with it. One of the things that has truly helped us through this challenging time is gratitude. Merriam-Webster states that gratitude means, “a feeling of appreciation or thanks : the state of being grateful : thankfulness.” Being grateful is grounding and mindful. It can uplift and energize. It can even be spiritual or religious. There really isn’t a single negative thing about feeling gratitude, is there?

Here are 10 simple things to be grateful for.

1.  Health

Even if your health isn’t perfect—your awful allergies, your achy back—there are probably more things working properly that you can feel thankful for.

2.  Family and friends

Whether you have a circle of three or thirty, each of these people make our lives better. They give us love and they let us love them.

3.  A roof over your head

Having a place to call home is a wonderful thing. An apartment, a cabin, a mansion, an RV—if it gives you sanctuary and a warm, safe place to sleep, it’s home.

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Pandemic Habits to Keep

Last month we went over some pandemic habits to say goodbye to, like too much takeout and screen time. However, there are even more habits and routines we’ve changed or added that actually bring healthy, positive, and uplifting vibes to our lives. We may have turned the corner on the pandemic (and fingers crossed that it stays that way!), but some things are too good to let go of. Let’s focus on pandemic habits we should definitely keep!

Walking, walking, and more walking!

Remember in early lockdown when there was nowhere to go and everyone started walking outside? It was actually quite wonderful! Our neighborhood streets, normally quiet, became busy with people walking, saying “Hello” from a distance, and talking to others from their porches. I’d have meet-ups with friends to walk, and with the streets empty we could walk six feet apart in the middle of the road. My husband liked to pop in his AirPods, find his latest favorite podcast, and walk for miles. If COVID got you taking a walk regularly, there’s absolutely no reason to stop this awesome practice. No wonder The Guardian calls 2020 “The Year of the Walker”!

Supporting local businesses

My local community groups were big on supporting local mom-and-pop shops instead of the big retail giants—we sure didn’t want them to disappear during the pandemic. While many places unfortunately still had to shutter, many more stayed afloat and are now feeling a resurgence. Yay! Restaurants, book stores, boutiques, pet shops, food trucks, clothing and gift shops, cafés, etc.—it’s so terrific to see these businesses return to almost-normal and begin to thrive again. Let’s keep up this local support!

Hygiene

One of the things I found so odd (and alarming, honestly) at the beginning of the pandemic was all the imploring for people to wash hands regularly; why was this a new thing?! In any case, in the past year colds and the flu almost disappeared. With social distancing, mask-wearing, and tons of sanitizing, the basic illnesses truly diminished; this may change as the world is opening up and the COVID-safety measures start to go away. I, for one, plan to keep up the hygiene practices—lots of hand-washing and sanitizers—even post-pandemic. I love not getting sick! And as they have been doing in Asia, I will start wearing a mask when I’m feeling under the weather, to keep others from catching whatever bug I’ve got.

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Pandemic Habits to Say Goodbye To

As of June 16, 2021, 70% of King County residents 16 years and older have been fully vaccinated—what an achievement! A year ago as we were struggling to cope with prolonged Stay At Home orders, this seemed like a far-off dream, and now here we are. The state will fully reopen by June 30, and although there will still be some health restrictions remaining, it will be the most “normal” life will be in over a year. I still can’t believe it sometimes! It was a challenging year on so many levels, and most of us had to change how we did everything—how we schooled, worked, and exercised, how we cooked and ate, how we kept ourselves entertained, how we kept in touch with the outside world. Now that things are moving forward, it’s time to make some positive changes in our lives. Some of the practices we’ve picked up during the pandemic definitely aren’t sustainable for a healthy, productive life. Let’s go over pandemic habits we can now work on saying Goodbye to!

Screen time overload.

We are all guilty of this. Every human in the world aged 3-103 spent countless hours on screens: smartphones, e-readers, tablets, computers, and TVs. Many parents relaxed (or chucked out completely) any screen limits for their kids. We worked, schooled, went to the movies, saw our friends and family, had happy hours, and played games via screens—it was a link to life outside your household. If only we’d bought stock in Zoom 18 months ago! It’s time to wean ourselves and our families off too much screen time: we like Calendar.com’s strategies on doing so.

Unstructured days.

For some, working and schooling from home created an upside-down world of malleable scheduling and do-it-when-you-can options. Mealtimes were all over the place, weekdays bled right into the weekends and before you knew it, it was already Tuesday again. Get that calendar up and running, whether it’s a cute calendar hung up in your kitchen, or an online shared family calendar like Cozi. Set up a regular waking, working, and bedtime schedule that is reasonable as well as realistic. Then schedule fun stuff: Hike to Mt. Si, dinner with friends (in a restaurant, even!), a local event like Kirkland Summerfest, game night with the grandparents. Sky’s the limit!

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My nest is empty, but the stuff remains. Why is decluttering so emotionally fraught?

From The Washington Post
March 4, 2021

 

Last March, when most people were wringing their hands about the shutdown, I felt positively giddy at the prospect of finally getting organized. Time — the rarest of commodities — was now being served up on a silver platter.

So how can it be that, almost a year since the pandemic began, the basement, attic and garage remain as overstuffed as ever? Why can’t I empty my empty nest? I have to confront an uncomfortable truth: It’s not about time; it’s about me.

Although the story about how younger generations have no use for their boomer parents’ stuffhas been well-documented, my lack of progress has nothing to do with dining room tables with seating for 12 or display cabinets. It’s the photo albums, the well-loved baby blankets and the shoe boxes full of letters that have left me paralyzed.

Follow me into my cobwebbed basement, and you’ll find a museum of memorabilia still untouched, despite a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. The bedroom set is a lot easier to shed than the 17-by-20-inch wedding portrait of my mother, who has been gone for 10 years now. It’s too massive and shrine-like to put anywhere else, and yet, how can I just cavalierly toss her in the trash?

Read the rest on The Washington Post.

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Giving the Gift of Organization

Is there someone special in your life who you feel would benefit from a gift of professional organizing services? It is definitely a thoughtful present that would help someone you care about. It’s one less “thing” they don’t need to store in their home or work space. If it’s something they may not be able to afford or would just not spend that money on themselves, then it would be a boon to their life. It’s a gift of love, really. With that being said, there are a few things to consider before giving this generous gift.

Would They Welcome This Gift?

If your brother and sister-in-law seem up to their eyeballs in clutter since the arrival of baby #2, but they are blissfully exhausted and seem fine with their messy home, gifting them a professional organizing service may actually burst their bubble and embarrass them. You don’t want your intended gift of help to create bad feelings for either of you. Think of it as giving a Weight Watchers membership to an overweight friend who has never said anything about trying to lose weight—ouch. But if they often mention how they wish they could finally finish getting the nursery set up, or get the kitchen organized so they can actually cook, or declutter the living room so it’s a more relaxing family space—then time with a pro organizer may be a great help to them.

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7 Habits to Break in the New Year

“New year, new me!”, goes the saying. That is a daunting task indeed. Besides, I like me, and I don’t necessarily want to change me to a new one! However, I do know that I’ve got some habits—as we all do—that hinder me from being my best self. Habits that may interfere with my sleep and my productivity; that may contribute to a cluttered home; and that keep me from being as active as I’d like. Even habits that don’t bode well for my financial well-being or my physical and mental health. So let’s change that saying to, “New year, better me!” Let’s start with these 7 habits to break in the new year.

1. Tossing mail on kitchen counter

You get home, get the mail, and put it on the kitchen counter. Sometimes it may take days to get to it, and now you’ve got a pile taking up counter space. Break this habit by setting up a system to handle mail. Whether it’s a mail organizer or a few file folders, set up a situation so you can come in, quickly go through the mail in hand, and place items in their proper categories such as “To Pay,” “To File,” and “To Recycle/Shred”.

2. Constantly checking your phone

How many times a day do you think you look at your phone? You may think, “Oh, maybe about 15,” but the reality is probably at least 10 times that. Check your iPhone or Android data to find out. Then go through your phone and change settings so that only the very important apps will send you notifications or alerts. These steps from CNBC can help you with even more detail on how to lower your phone pick-ups. This will be better for your productivity, your social life, and your sense of self!

3. Sitting all day

So many of us are now working from home, which means a lot of hours spent videoconferencing with coworkers and clients. No bueno! Hours of sitting can seriously take a toll on your health, both physical and mental. Get up every 45-60 minutes, even if it’s just to get the mail (natch, don’t toss it on the counter) or use the restroom. If you’ve got a longer break, walk around the block. If you find it tough to take these breaks you might consider a standing desk.

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Turning Your Home Into a Self-Care Sanctuary

Self-care is so important right now. It’s only mid-January and for Pacific Northwesterners, we know that means a few more months of cold, wet greydom. Understandably, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is much more common in our hemisphere. Where can you get self-care if your budget is limited or you aren’t feeling ready to go to the gym or spa, or to travel? The answer is closer than you think: Home. This infographic has 15 easy ways to turn your home into a self-care sanctuary. Print it out and let it to inspire you to create a home that is conducive to self-care.

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When Your Empty Nest Refills

Has your empty nest been refilled in light of this year’s unprecedented events? Guess what, you are not alone! According to a recent survey by Country Financial, 1 in 5 parents have had adult kids move back home in 2020. For younger millennials (24-29 year olds), 39% of them are either planning to move back home or have already done so. In some cases a child who was supposed to move out is staying home instead because their university is currently still remote-only. Whatever the reason, having a kid or two at home when you were expecting to be an empty nester is probably a surprise. We’ve got some tips on how to keep things positive and harmonious while enjoying this extra time together.

Set Expectations

Your kiddo is now an adult, and not only should you treat them as such, but they should also behave accordingly. Let them do their own laundry, give them chores, take turns doing groceries and making dinner—you get the idea. Unless you want your house to feel like your adult children’s personal “bed & breakfast,” set these expectations early on. It’s easy for your relationship to regress to the parent-child dynamic, but really try not to let it. Instead, move it towards more of an adult-roommates dynamic.

Communicate Needs

Everyone will have specific needs and these should be addressed and agreed upon. For example, if you and your spouse are accustomed to having dinner at 6pm but your late-working daughter likes to eat at 9pm, work out a compromise involving cooking and heating up leftovers. If your son has a daily 8am call with his boss, move your daily morning treadmill date with Van Halen earlier or later (or get AirPods!). It’s also important to communicate about finances. If your child is working, do you want them to help pay for utilities and groceries? If not, do they need financial support, and how much? Talking about it and clarifying details will make it a bit less stressful for both of you.

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