Valentine’s Day can be such a fun time for teens. Even for teens that do not have a special “other person”, giving gifts to a bestie or other friends can be fun! Finding the best Valentine’s gifts can be a lot of fun, and there are many great activities as well that I list at the bottom for fun!
We encourage our boys to give gifts at least to us and their grandparents, even if it is just a card. These can mean a lot, especially if they are homemade!
Showing someone that you care is a life lesson, and there is no better time than Valentine’s Day to make sure that this happens!
Encourage your teens to reach out to someone or many someones with a message of friendship and/or love.
I put together the following list of Valentine’s gifts with help from my boys and my middle school students. These vary in price from just a few dollars up to a lot -most are really inexpensive items of less than $25. Our teens need to remember that it is the thought that counts more than anything.
*This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is here.
We recently moved our middle son into his first apartment.
Last year, it was a dorm, now he’s moving into his first apartment. This means essentially, that our son will never be moving back home again.
Moving him into a dorm was hard work, and I was a little emotional because it was the end of an era. I knew that we would all miss him, especially his little brother. But, I also knew that he was embarking on a new adventure, and that he would have lots of fun in college. Therefore, I didn’t get too sad.
Plus, silly me, I thought that he would be moving home for the summer after his first year away. So, what does an onion have to do with this story you ask…
*This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase. My full disclosure policy is here.
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All moved in
Well, now it is July after his freshman year, and he has been in his new apartment for a few weeks. I have had time to process this a little bit. He is still in town. He still comes home a couple of times a week. He came home yesterday for an onion.
Really? We are still helping with his groceries and rent money. He does know how to grocery shop on his own. But here he was for an onion!
He is a great cook. He has helped with meals ever since he was in middle school. He is looking for a grill on Facebook marketplace because he would like to have cooking options. His roommate doesn’t cook, but said he would split the cost of food and clean up if Will would cook and share.
My son called after their first trip to Aldi’s to say, “Momma, that place is a miracle.”
So, yes, he has moved out, but that’s okay. He is still my sweet boy. Who calls and stops by to grab an onion, who wants my *chicken salad recipe (included down below this post), and who is very particular about how his room looks now.
We are still looking for some good deals on some things that they need for their apartment, but it is coming together nicely.
As your teen (or anyone) is moving into a new place, here is a great guide to what and how to pack for an organized move-in.
*Recipe at bottom of this post.
How it all came together
One thing that his roommate’s mom and I did was to shop ahead of time at garage sales, estate sales, online, and our own homes to gather a lot of their necessary supplies and furniture. This really helped to split the cost and not have it all be happening at once. Here is a first apartment checklist!
I shopped at Home Goods for a lot of his bathroom supplies, and I do believe he was as particular about what he wanted as any girl would have been. I took pictures and texted them to him. His comments were priceless.
“Too girly.” “Too patterned.” “That’s ugly.” “Too brown.” You get the picture!
He and I just headed to another home supply store last night, and I think he is set with his first apartment must haves. He mentioned when we walked through the doors that this was his new favorite kind of store! I was cracking up. He looked through all the kitchen gear, and we spent at least fifteen minutes in the candle section trying to find just the right scent for his room. Priceless time together!
Here is one thing that he and his roommate are learning.
They are really proud of their new home. They have worked hard to make it nice. It is amazing what a little ownership will do for their housekeeping! I have dropped by with a few items a couple of times. Each time, their apartment is spotless! This is the boy who, when we moved his bed out of our house, we were able to fill a trash bag with the stuff from under his bed. It was DISGUSTING!
They have started to learn who of their friends they can trust to be respectful of their space and things in that space. This has been very eye-opening for them.
Speaking of friends… It is good to remind your teens to stay safe. It is important for them to know who all are aware of their address. Read the following article about staying safe in their new digs here.
They have established house rules.
They have established a time for the end of the night. Obviously, they will make exceptions, but in general they decided what time they want everyone to leave.
Another thing that they have decided is that their friends need to let them know that they are headed over, and their friends need to make sure that it’s an okay time.
My son and his roommate are both on really tight budgets. They have asked that their friends not show up empty handed. They cannot afford to host with food and drink every time their friends are over. This is a very social group, and basically their apartment is one of the few that any of them have right now. Many of their friends living at home for the summer and are wanting to come over away from their parents.
My son has the hall bathroom. He has learned that a lot of his friends are pigs. His term, not mine. He has had to clean his bathroom many times more than probably ever in his life! With that in mind, I created some fun bathroom art for him. Here is one of them below. They are each meant to be printed out and trimmed to 5″ x 7″.
Setting up a budget has been a work in progress for a couple of weeks.
We have been helping him with all the expenses of a first time apartment set up. Now that it is pretty much a settled place, we have had him keep track of expenses.
Summer fun money
He is now on a set budget where he takes care of all but the groceries. This is with the understanding that he needs to be shopping at Aldi’s and not the gourmet grocery store downtown. We will adjust the amount in a few weeks if it isn’t enough or is somehow too much. He already pays for his own gas, and will start paying us for his car insurance in the fall after he has made his summer money.
Don’t forget to grab the first apartment checklist here.
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Have you checked about renter’s insurance? If the apartment is on campus, it may not be needed. If off of campus, check with your insurance carrier. Coverage is offered for many things. The building itself will be covered by the apartment owner’s policy. Personal property is covered by renter’s insurance. Only 37% of all renters have this, so it is definitely worth checking into!
(Please note: renter’s insurance may be required by the landlord and it’s typically very affordable!)
Remember, this is your teen’s apartment. You are probably not welcome there very often. Get them moved in, and then stay away.
If you do stop by, do NOT say anything about the way it looks. Giving your child a fair warning that you are coming would be polite.
Do not assume that your kids know what you will be paying for. Both of our boys thought that since they were now going to be in apartments that they would have to pay for their own food! We told them that we would help them to get on a budget and give them a little towards food weekly. They were both shocked because they thought moving out meant they were on their own.
I ask occasionally if either of them needs anything at Walmart or wherever. I like to let them know I got extra toilet paper or cleaning supplies that they can come pick up. They love this because it mean their budget will go towards more groceries for the week.
Here are some tips and tools for working remotely whether it’s for a job or for school. Our lives look different these days! Work is from home can be completely remote or partly at home. School is still remote in many places during quarantines, and families are choosing to keep their kids home.
I hope that this helps you with any job or school situation.
This post has strategies as well as tools for remote work and school success. I hope these ideas help you as you create and/or improve your working space!
*This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy ishere.
Routines and dedicated space/time for working remotely
Routines will be very important for you to get the most work/studying accomplished during your day.
Create a morning and evening routines –Each morning look over calendar for the day, set timers for appointments, create a daily checklist. Start some music. Find a playlist that works for you, I like to listen to smooth jazz because there are no lyrics to distract me. Try different playlists for different tasks so that you won’t get bored. Each evening set a time for finishing and clear your desk for the next day. If you are in the middle of a project, straighten it up, and make sure that it is in a safe spot overnight.
Dedicated work space -Have a dedicated space which can be indoors or out, sometimes both depending on where you live, and what your day needs to look like. Some jobs might need to be done all inside because they will take longer, and you don’t want to move all your things in and out all the time. Other smaller tasks might be more fun to do in the morning outside before the heat of the day.
Keep set hours -make a weekly schedule each Friday for the following week. Take breaks for set amounts of time- don’t skimp on breaks. Take breaks at the same time as friends so that you can socially distance meet for a walk in the park, zoom for fun etc. Protect your personal time-in other words, just because you are home, don’t work ALL the time.
Set ground rules with others in your home -no interruptions, no touching papers. If you have kids or siblings, spouses even, let them know of your schedule. Have a procedure in place if someone really needs your attention. A “do not disturb” or stop sign can be a great signal. On the other hand, have a green light sign if you are available, so that your people know!
This is one of the most important tips and tools for working remotely. You have to take care of you. Whether you are working remotely for a company or studying and attending class as a student, don’t forget to do the following things regularly.
Get out of your house -Go for a walk. Go to the store. Sit out on your front porch and watch the sun set.
Take sick days -You would take these if you were going into work, so take care of you while at home. There will be days that you cannot work because of illness, your boss and/or teacher knows this!
Be positive -It can get easy to just focus on work, to get lonely, to get bogged down in not being able to get out. Make healthy choices to do what you can. Set a timer to stop work every so often. Make a date to meet someone for lunch, however that has to look.
Communicate in ways that are not work related-send that funny GIF or meme to fellow workers.
Set times for your meals – When you have set times for meals, you can better plan your day. This makes it easier to make plans for lunch out or scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Try to avoid too much snacking!
Give yourself grace -Working from home can be great, but it has its own stresses. Avoid overworking- this is easy to do when you are at home all the time. Know that mistakes will be made at home just like anywhere else.
Work relations for working remotely
Socialize with your colleagues -Communicate in ways that are not work related-send that funny GIF or meme to fellow workers.
Use a VPM (virtual private network) –I had to look this one up. It is highly recommended especially if you are working from home. Not as necessary for schooling, but not a bad idea. These can be free, but really, all the ones that I found ranged in price from $4.99-$12.99 a month. This seems really reasonable when you are thinking of internet safety.
Show up for meetings -If there is a meeting or class that is scheduled, then you should be there. This includes any meetings for group projects. As an employee, your job performance will be based on attendance as well as other intangibles such as effort and problem solving.
Get face time with your company -at least once or twice a year, hopefully, this will be possible! It is always a good idea to meet in person.
Look for training opportunities -Another term for this is “upskilling”. Take it upon yourself to learn new skills. Websites such as Udemy, Skillshare or even Khan Academy are all good places to look. Some examples of skills to learn might be: preparing Excel spreadsheets, making pins for Pinterest on Canva, or even a new language.
Overcommunicate -Be present, even virtually. Be available. Document everything. Be polite. Follow up. This applies to students as well as employees.
Use separate phone number for work -There are many options for this. If your company doesn’t set this up for you, then you might check into it for yourself. Be sure to mute your personal phone when working for less distractions.
Ask for what you need to work from home -Anything that you feel would make your experience better is always worth asking for. Whether it is for a job or school, please ask your boss or professor. They will do their best to help if you have good reasons for asking.
Ergonomics are important -This is “engineering for your body.” Not only is comfort important, it will help you to maximize your time, and prevent burnout. There are many reasons why this is something to think about.
How to negotiate working remotely
Decide your “why” -Do you really want to do this? What would be your benefits of doing so?
Be prepared with solid information about how this will work -For instance, how will you keep track of hours worked? How will communication work between you and your co-workers? Come up with all the concerns that you think your boss will have, and be ready with an answer. In other words, do your homework.
Start with a trial period, of say 8 weeks -Both you and your boss can assess whether this is working or if anything needs to be tweaked to make it better.
Have you been home and want to stay there to continue working? Read this article for ideas how.
Working remotely best practices
Find out what your employer or school policies are for remote work.
Know how to reach your boss/manager or professor. Do they keep set hours?
Clarify expectations between co-workers or fellow students working on a project.
Set meeting times with extra time in the front and back end to catch up just like you would in person.
Get dressed for the day.
Make a work “playlist”.
Try new ways of doing things.
Assess what is working regularly- for yourself, and the company or school (grades).
Tools for working remotely
Comfort is key when working anywhere. If you are newly working or studying at home, look at what you have around the house that will make your work area both comfortable and inviting. You would do this at an office, and you should make an area or two where you work or study a place that you enjoy. I have listed some tips and supplies that will help you as you begin or continue to work remotely at home.
Pomodoro method -This is a great method for working and/or studying. You break down tasks into manageable chunks and set a timer. If you have never tried this method, it’s worth trying!
To-do lists -Tips to creating the best lists for getting things accomplished in a logical order. This is great when you have lots going on!
I highly recommend working outside when you can! It is always nice to get fresh air, and it will give you a different work space that won’t leave you feeling trapped inside all day.
Work outside in the morning before the heat of the day, or maybe in the evening after a few hours off in the afternoon through dinner. Here are some tips and tools for working remotely outside.
Sunscreen -Even if you are out before prime sun hours, you really should use this! Don’t forget the back of your hands, your neck, and ears.
Sunglasses -These are also a must. Don’t squint into the sun! Wrinkles in your future so much faster! And, Blue light blocking glasses -even if you need no correction to your vision, these will help protect your eyes from hours on a screen. Blue light glasses reduce fatigue and improve your sleep!
Camp table –This one has adjustable legs, folds up, and has a smooth, not slatted surface.
Sail canopy -Automatic shade! These are really nice, and really easy to set up.
Balcony table -This is cool! It hangs over your balcony railing. Really nice if your space is limited! There are two sizes available.
Comfy chair -This is so important! Make sure that you find a chair that you can sit in comfortably for a couple of hours. Of course, it’s best if you get up more often than that, but you may have to sit through a long meeting or class. This one is nice with the mesh seat and back. There are six color choices.
Planter pots– These are great for indoors or out. I like the size of these, and these two pots look a little like concrete.
Rug -This one is sisal, and comes in many sizes. This material is great indoors or out.
Throw blanket -This will be great for cooler mornings and evenings. The design in this is classic, and comes in many different colors. The price is right, too! Here are some lightweight Turkish blankets that are fun!
Indoor setup for working remotely
Many of us have indoor offices set up already. Look at your area with a set of fresh eyes. What could you do for a refresh? Do a deep clean first, and throw out anything that is no longer needed or necessary. Could you pull a new area rug from a different room? What about a new plant? Purchase some new art, or even better take some time to do an easy DIY project for your update. Here are some tips and tools for working remotely inside.
Comfy chair -This is another ergonomically designed chair. I love a chair with armrests!
Standing desk converter -This is the bomb. I have ordered one for my desk. It will raise so that you can stand while you work. My rear end gets so tired!
Planter -This set of 2 little brown/ cream geometric planters are really cool for a girl or guys work space.
Rug -This rug comes in many colors to match any decor. Also many sizes. It’s amazing how just a rug can transform a space from drab to amazing.
Lamp -This is dimmable, has different settings for brightness, and has a USB charging port. It comes in a couple of colors.
There are so many apps and software available now, that it is hard to know where to begin. Talk with your work to see if if any of these could be provided for you. Know what the choices are and do some research about the pros and cons of each tool, app or system.
Glare guard -for screen (especially if working outdoors) This particular guard is anti-blue light, anti-glare, and blocks UV rays.
Power station -This is not totally necessary, but would be nice to have on hand in a few instances of low power or a power outage.
Wifi booster -This can be helpful in many instances. We have a couple of these in our home because our wifi is awful!
Hope that these tips and tools for working remotely help!
Working or studying from home is a challenge and a privilege. Even if you have no choice about your home location, then you do have a choice about making it the best experience that it can be. Be sure to use these tips and tools for working remotely.
Be comfortable. Be smart. Be productive. Good luck to you!
Are you exhausted from your whining, wheedling teenager? What is your teen wanting you to say “yes” to? It takes a lot of strength to say “no” in the face of major teen drama-and there will be drama if you use that BAD word. Stick to your guns, and just say no to your teenager-they might thank you later! *This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy ishere.
There are so many things your teen might be asking… Going out is probably the biggest one I can think of. Here are the questions that you will have: Who will they be with? Where are they going? Who will be driving? Will they be going anywhere else? Will the parents be there? Will there be drinking or drugs?
The questions are endless. “Can I…” -you fill in the blank.
Here are three ways it’s hard to say no to a teenager.
Stage 1: Your teen will be very sweet and/or uber-reasonable. Say no!
Stage 2: Your teen will mope. Say no!
Stage 3: Your teen will try to intimidate you with his anger. Say no!
How to say “No” to your teenager -you can do it!
Have clear boundaries.
I recommend having very few rules. If you have a lot of family rules, look them over. Condense them down. Make them crystal clear. We have two rules in our house. Here is my blog post about discipline. If you have few rules and they are concise, then there is less chance for your teen to try to wiggle around them.
When our kids were younger, we really worked on obedience and respect. This helped as they became teenagers. If you have had a lot of rules, your teen might appreciate a new, fresh approach from you.
Time for self-management.
This is a time for you to start letting your teen begin to manage themselves. Contracts are great conversation starters, and writing them can be really freeing. One thing that we learned in the process of using these, is once we have shared our non-negotiables, our boys have written contracts that were much stricter than what we would have written! The final product has to be agreed upon and signed by all parties.
If the contract is broken, your teen has to face the consequences which have been written and agreed upon at an earlier date. (Don’t get crazy with this! A piece of paper and a pen is enough to get started.) Here is a link to what a contract with your child is all about.
The best part about this time for your teen, is that, as your teen begins to try new things and have new experiences, they can prove to you that they are responsible. Eventually, contracts can be amended, lessened, and eventually eliminated!
One of our boys never had a curfew because he never pushed it, and we trusted him. Our next son had a very strict one for quite awhile because he kept pushing it. Every kid and every situation is different, so you may not have the exact same rules for each kid, and that is okay. You are the parent, and you do not have to explain yourself!
The other piece of this is flexibility. Teens will present you with all sorts of new parenting issues-welcome to the seven year challenge called parenting teens!
As new situations arise, you may not be ready to make a decision right away. Our answer to this has always been, “This is a new situation, we need to think about this first.” This has saved us many times!
We used this when they wanted to ride with a new older friend who could drive. We used this when they wanted to get new apps on their phones. We used this when one of them snuck a friend into our house while we were gone…
Stay clear of the drama.
Teens are all about drama! I only have boys and can assure you that they are dramatic in their own way! I have been a teacher of preschool, elementary and middle school for more than 20 years, and so, I know about girl drama as well!
The arsenal of teen histrionics is deep and wide. Teens will use whining, moping, angry behavior meant to intimidate us, and on and on… Do not cave in.
I have used a Josh Shipp quote before, but I love it and will use it again here. He said, “Teenagers will test you to see if you, like the lap bar on a roller coaster will hold.” They need to know if you are “steady and safe” and if your love for them will “hold”. This is truth! But, boy, is it hard!
The best way to stay on track with your teen, to know who their friends are, to know what is happening in your teen’s life is to talk with them. Schedule conversations. At the minimum, once a month. We always had longer more serious conversations around grade time. This was whether they had good or bad grades. Goals could be made at this time, and conversation about their plans for the future.
Monthly or even weekly talks can be scheduled as well. It can be as easy as checking in with everyone on Sunday night to fill in the calendar. Don’t overwhelm your teen with big topics, and remember to listen and ask thought-provoking questions to scratch beneath the surface occasionally. Let you teen lead the way more and more often.
Do not talk down to your teen. Do not talk them to death. Listen. Have a conversation. Respect their opinion even if it makes no sense, and many times it won’t. Don’t point out their errors. Agree to walk away and come back if things get heated. Your teen wants ( and needs) to be heard.
We ask that they respect us, but we need to give the same in return. Let them know the questions and concerns that you have about a new situation. Tell your teen if these questions can be answered satisfactorily, then your answer might change to maybe or even to a “yes”. This change can only occur if the answers are provided in a timely manner, and in a way that satisfies all.
This can mean many things!
Talk with your spouse or significant other about as many topics ahead of time as possible. As you hear of other family’s circumstances, talk things over, and make a plan together. A teen can sense any type of weakness, and will use all the tools in their wheedling toolkit to get what they want.
Talk with your friends. Have any of them experienced your current issue? It’s great to have a mentor with an older teen who may have already experienced certain problems before. If possible make a pact with your teen’s friends’ parents to watch out for behaviors and to communicate with one another as problems occur.
Finally, know that you are in charge. It can be exhausting both mentally and physically, so take care of yourself! Go out on a date with yourself, your spouse or significant other. Take a quick nap. Give yourself mercy because we all make mistakes, and you will too. It’s okay to change your mind, just stay the course!
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