Running a household can be tough. From keeping track of everyone’s schedule to making sure everyone is keeping track of their own schedule, things can get a little tricky. Here’s where a little teamwork and planning becomes very, very, useful. 

1.) Have clearly defined roles and values, and stick to them.
If you’d like to pass on the value that it’s best to offer help before someone has to ask for it, then demonstrate it. Things can get very confusing when the “Do as I say, not as I do” mantra is practiced. If you want your kids to stand up for themselves, laugh off the little things, or put something away when they’re done using it, than you should try your best to do those things too. 

2.) Delegate.
One of the reasons many families have an unnecessary amount of stress is that one person is doing all the work. Maybe the mother is working full time as well as keeping the house clean, dropping off and picking up the kids from school activities, making dinner, doing the grocery shopping, and much, much more. In this case, it can be hard for anyone else to even begin to help. They don’t know what to do. 

So define the roles. Maybe it’s the 12 year-old’s job to make sure the dishes are done and the table is set, the 15 year-old’s job to make sure the animals are fed and the living room is vacuumed. When one parent comes to home to make dinner, it’s the other parent’s job to pick up the kids from soccer practice. When everyone pitches in, everything gets a little easier. 

3.) Communicate.
As advanced as modern science and technology is, it still hasn’t cracked the code that would allow us all to be mind-readers. If you or another member of your family is unhappy with the status-quo, something needs to be said, and in order for that to happen, a welcoming and non-judgmental environment needs to be set in place. 

But since it’s tough to just outright say something (we all still struggle with it), help each other out. Just a simple, “How was your day?”is enough to get the ball rolling. Showing that you’re interesting and concerned with each other’s lives will help each other feel connected and valued. 

4.) Point out the good.
It’s such a small gesture, but it goes so far in keeping your family a close-knit group. “I saw you got an ‘A’ on that last test, great job,” or “Awesome job with dinner tonight, that was delicious,” is a simple way to show you care.

5.) Be polite and respectful.
Everyone is going to get testy at one point or another. It’s a simple fact that families are chaotic and not everyone is happy all the time, but as long as you agree to be respectful (that means no namecalling, under any circumstance), things are much likely to smooth over. 

Oh and “please” and “thank-you” never hurt anyone. 

How do you help your family function?
 
 
Buying a new home can be quite a stressful process; there are so many things to take into consideration! From its proximity to your work or your child’s school, to the security of the neighborhood to the validity of the home inspection, the amount of thought that goes into buying a home can cause anyone to lose a few hours of sleep each night. 

So let’s simplify this. Let’s take a look at some of the unwanted pressures of buying a home, and how to correctly navigate them. 

1.) Define your reasons for buying a home.
If you’re looking to buy a home because you really have an urge to paint and design a living room, you might want to hold off a bit. Buying a home is a huge commitment, one that you may spend the next 30 years paying off. On the other hand, if you’ve researched the pros and cons of buying a home (how it’s going to affect your taxes, if you’re able to handle being responsible for all maintenance concerns, etc) you might be ready to take the first step. 

2.) Get your finances in order.
Nothing adds more stress to a home-buying situation quicker than financial uncertainty. You might find the perfect home but not be able to make an offer because the bank hasn’t finished processing your loan paperwork yet, or you might end up looking at houses only to have your dreams crushed when you discover you qualified for a much lower amount than you thought you did. Before you start your search, make sure you know where you stand
 
3.) Hire an agent. Trying to tackle the process of buying a home without the help of an experienced real estate agent is often setting yourself up for disaster. An agent will know the up-and-coming neighborhoods, the current state of the housing market and other things that you might want to consider (a swimming pool is great, but are you aware of the maintenance costs?). They will also help you make a strong first offer and negotiate properly to get the home of your dreams. In addition, they often have a significant list of contacts that will be able to help you in your process, such as a great home inspector. 

4.) Cancel out the naysayers. Buying a home is often like planning a wedding; there is going to be countless people who think they know best and want you to take their opinion. Thing is though their opinions aren’t always facts. Your mother-in-law might comment that the house you’re looking at is far too overpriced in this market, but in reality she probably doesn’t know the real estate climate at this time and the cost of that home could be perfectly reasonable. Just be sure to have a reliable real estate agent, as well as…

5.) Trust your gut. If you walk into a home, and it just doesn’t “feel right,” it’s probably not the home for you. Sure it might be the right size, have a backyard like you asked and be in your price range, but if you’ve got a gut feeling that it’s not a good fit, it’s probably not. When you find the home of your dreams, you’ll know it.
 
 

Starting your own business
is often a dream many of us share. The thought of being your own boss, making your own schedule, and most importantly, creating something you're proud of, are all some of the major benefits of owning your own business. Small question though, how do you get started? 

1.) Have an idea. Every business starts with a product or a service, so do you feel you have something to offer? Maybe you love cleaning and feel like you can clean a house better than anyone you know, so you're thinking of opening a maid service. Maybe you're a fantastic chef and have worked in kitchens your whole life and feel like it's time to run a restaurant of your own. Maybe you live in a community that could seriously benefit from a dog-walking service. In any case, make sure you have an idea of what kind of business you would get involved in. 

2.) Write a business plan. A business plan will help you decide what you need to do now and where you want things to go. It would be great if your business is successful, but if it begins growing faster than you expected and you aren't ready for the increase in demand, it could crumble what was originally a great start.

3.) Research business requirements in your area.
Your state may require different licensures and certifications than the next state over, so it's important to know exactly what you need to do in your area. And if you need to choose a location, there might be specific zoning regulations that affect what you can have inside your building or what kind of construction your building can undergo. 

In addition, it's going to be important to determine the legal structuring of your business (LLC or an S-Corporation?) and register for state and federal taxes. It may even be necessary to get a tax identification number. There are also going to be different rules and regulations regarding how you go about hiring employees. 

4.) Finance your business. A well written business plan will be able to help you determine what kind of start up money you'll need to get your business off the ground. There are many options to financing your own business, from using money you have in savings, to taking out a business loan to finding local or government grants to help with small businesses. 

5.) Train yourself and your employees. No matter what line of work you are in, there is almost always some sort of training that you or your employees could benefit from. You'll want to make sure any employees you hire are ready for the job they're going to be doing, otherwise your business could collapse before it even gets started. 

6.) Go for it! Starting a business can be a daunting task, but as long as you go
about it the right way (doing your research, making sure you're well organized,
etc), you'll have a better idea of the steps you need to take.

Good luck!
 
 
Ah, the idea of getting healthy. For so many of us, the phrase, "getting healthy" is really just a simple phrase that we use either A.) Right after we catch our breath after climbing up a rather miniscule flight of stairs, or B.) What we say in a drunken slur four minutes before midnight on December 31. Of course, "getting healthy" tends to be easier said than done; otherwise you would be spending your time doing something other than reading this article, wouldn't you?

So whether you have a goal of quitting smoking, getting more sleep at night, dropping that holiday weight or just laughing more, let's examine the tried and true way of getting it done. 

1.) Choose a specific goal. Make sure you know exactly what you are pursuing. Choosing a goal of "I want to be healthy" won't be doing you any favors. Do you want to want to have a slower body fat percentage? Do you want to reduce the amount of negative self-talk you participate in? Do you want to increase your endurance or strength capabilities? Choosing a specific goal allows you to outline a plan for accomplishing it.  

2.) Research your goal. The point of this step is to make sure your goal is realistic and, in fact, healthy. Committing to lose 20 pounds in the next two weeks is probably not a very good idea. It's completely unrealistic, and any doctor will tell you that trying to lose more than two pounds a week can be harmful to your health.

3.) Write it down. Research has proven that writing your goal down and keeping it in a place where you see it often (taped to your bathroom mirror, for example) can significantly increase your chances of reaching it. 

4.) Set a timeline. Are you hoping to lose weight for your upcoming wedding? Training for a 10k race coming up in 3 months? Set yourself up with some kind of timeline. This doesn't have to be set in stone, mind you (everything always takes some adjusting as you go), but it will help you to stay motivated as your end date approaches. 

5.) Make a plan. A plan needs to be put in place for two main reasons: 1.) You need a plan to outline what you need to do each day to reach your goal, and 2.) You need to have a way to measure your progress. Creating a step by step plan to reach your health goal will also help things seem less overwhelming and help to keep you on track. 

So think about what you're going to do each day to reach your objective. If you're hoping to fit into your favorite pre-pregnancy pair of jeans before your high school reunion, what do you need to do each day? Perhaps you could start by doing some kind of cardio activity, three days a week, for at least 30 minutes a day. You could also commit to swapping some of your most indulgent foods for lower calorie options (skim milk instead of heavy cream in your morning coffee).  And how are you going to measure your progress? Maybe you could weigh yourself or take body measurements once a week.

6.) Make a relapse plan.
This is probably the most important step in your "get healthy" regimen. Understanding that sometimes you will slip up, and then having a way to get you back on track will make sure you don't fall off the wagon completely. Sure, everyone is going to backslide once in awhile, but that doesn't mean all is lost. A cookie one day does not justify three cookies the next day. 

Get the idea? Good, now go for it!