Convincing Your Kids to Chip in around the Holidays

kids-help-holidaysIt’s tempting to use the holidays as a carrot to elicit positive behaviors from kids such as helping more with tidying and cleaning around the house. But there are helpful and not-so-helpful ways of going about it. Here are a few tips and tricks for getting more help from your kids while avoiding unintended drama or consequences:

Emphasize the nice part of the nice-naughty dichotomy. ‘Are there old toys we might declutter and donate to make space for the new?‘ Or, ‘For every room you dust, you can earn a dollar to donate to our local food bank’ (adding points to your ‘nice’ column just in time for the holidays).

Game-ify. For example: ‘Whoever finishes cleaning their room first gets to lick the cookie-icing spoon or hang a favorite decoration.’ OR ‘Whoever clears the table after dinner gets to open and enjoy today’s treat from our holiday countdown calendar.’

Chores before beloved holiday traditions. ‘If we get the house cleaned this morning, we can [fill in a favorite holiday activity] this afternoon.’

Deploy ‘outside agents’ with extreme care. Understand there’s an inherent creepiness in having one’s behavior watched and judged in every moment, either by an omniscient gift giver from the North or even an active spy in your home (e.g., Elf on a Shelf). While some kids will delight in the spy’s mischievous antics, others may be secretly terrified or stressed out by its presence. But making sure the spy seems super benevolent can backfire, too. Should you decide to invite in the spy into your home, know that kids will discuss and compare their antics amongst themselves at school, adding pressure for you to be creative on a daily basis at an already-hectic time of year. You can relieve some of the pressure by borrowing ideas from others or creating a unique version of the concept to do away with the comparisons altogether.

Create opportunities for redemption. Let kids know that the great holiday gift giver is an eminently forgiving soul and that helping more around the house is a great way to redeem past mistakes they might be fretting about in secret (and all the better if the help is unsolicited!). You can also avoid ‘rebound’ bad and unhelpful behaviors by resolving to extend positive incentives for nice behavior throughout the entire New Year.

Stretches For Office Workers

maidpro office exercises

By Dan Mahoney, MaidPro Health & Wellness Coach

Google “the dangers of sitting all day” and you’ll get a whopping 3.36 million search results! Worry not, however. There is plenty you can do – without even breaking a sweat – to combat the hazards of sedentary office work. Here are seven stretches you can do to promote flexibility and to get your blood circulating:

Standing quad stretch. Stand tall, bring your heel up toward your buttocks, and grab the top of your foot. Hold for 30-40 seconds and switch sides. If balance is an issue, use a wall or desk for support.

Ankle circles. This is especially great for women who wear high heels. Make large circles with your ankles inboth directions.

Shoulder rolls. Shrug shoulders toward your ears as if you don’t know the answer to a question. Then roll your shoulders backward and down.

Hamstring stretch. Lift your toes off the ground and squeeze your legs together. Touch your toes 15 times, even if you need to bend your knees to get there. Then elevate your heels and squeeze your thighs together; repeat for another 15 reps. After 30 reps, test your range of motion. Even if you can’t touch your toes in the beginning, you’ll get there in no time if you do this exercise regularly.

Arm circles. Hold your arms out to the side. Start with small circles and gradually increase circumference. Reverse direction and repeat.

Neck stretch. Bring your ear to your shoulder, alternating for 10-15 repetitions on each side. Rest, then move your head in the opposite direction, bringing chin to chest and back of head toward spine.

Triceps stretch. Stand tall with a neutral spine. Raise one arm toward the sky, bend at the elbow, dropping your hand toward the space between your shoulder blades and hold. Repeat 2-3 times on each side. Move only as far as is comfortable and adjust distance from the wall to suit your shoulder’s natural range of motion. Repeat on the other side.

The key is to get out of your chair and move for at least a few minutes every half and hour or so. Set an alarm to remind yourself, and dress mindfully to increase your options for fitting more small bursts of exercise into each workday.