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Friday, March 26, 2010

Tips for healthy living

Life is full of hope and opportunities. We must have a healthy mind and body to achieve what we want for our lives. How can we have a healthy mind and body? We must embrace healthy living in order to have good health.

What is healthy living? Healthy living is a life style that is characterized by eating well, resting well, socializing well and exercising well. Living healthily will lead us to good mental and physical health.

How to achieve a healthy living? We have to make the right choices in order to live and stay healthy. Below are some simple ways to keep us healthy:

1. Embrace good eating habit and eat a balance diet

We need energy to start our day. Therefore, food is very important to us. However, excessive eating may lead to bad health conditions and obesity. Hence, it is important to shape a good eating habit. It is important to eat the right amount of food at regular time. We must not skip breakfast though some of us might think breakfast is unimportant. We must not eat too much junk food and do not over eat before going to bed. We must get into the habit of eating some fruits every day. We must curb our loving on deep fried food and eat more stewed or steamed food.

A balanced diet that comprising of grain, vegetables, fruit, meat, and dairy product is very important to us. Grain and vegetables are a good source for carbohydrates and fiber. Carbohydrates provide us with energy to conduct physical activities whereas fiber improves our digestion. Meat is a good source for protein. We need protein to grow and to repair our tissues. Our health will be in jeopardy if we are not eating a balance diet.

2. Embrace healthy drinking habit

A healthy drinking habit is important in order to maintain our health. We must drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. We must reduce the amount of drinking on unhealthy beverages such as alcohol, coffee, tea and soft drink. Excessive drinking of alcohol will lead to liver problem. It also causes us to lose control of ourselves when we are drunk. Excessive drinking of coffee or tea will cause us to have sleeping problem because caffeine in coffee or tea will make us awake. When we drink soft drink like coca cola, sprit, etc., we are actually drinking sugar water. A large amount of intake of sugar will lead to obesity and it is bad for our teeth.

3. Do exercise regularly

Exercising is another important factor to maintain good health. No matter how busy and how lazy we are, we must allocate some time to do exercise. A 15 minutes regular exercise of each day will make a different in our lives. The right amount of exercise will reduce stress and give us energy. Sometimes even a little stretching or a short walk will help.

However, we must avoid excessive exercising. Excessive exercising not only leave us physically exhausted, short of breathe but also bad to our bodies. It may lead to pain and muscle torn in some parts of our bodies.

4. Get rid of bad habits and cultivate good habits

Smoking, drinking alcohol, taking drug, and gambling are just a few bad habits that we should get rid of in order to stay healthy. Bad habits not only bad for our health, they also lead to other problems such as financial, emotional and social problems.

We must cultivate good habit such as sleeping on time and have healthy hobbies such as reading, hiking, singing, etc. Good habits and healthy hobbies will lead to success in lives.

5. Maintain personal hygiene and a clean and peaceful living environment

We must maintain personal hygiene in order to have good health. We must bath at least once a day to keep ourselves clean. Washing hands regularly especially after we use the washrooms and before eating is a good habit that we should practise.

In addition, we have to ensure that our living environment is clean and tidy. A living environment that is clean will give us quality of life. We will not be exposed to toxin and germ and this will keep us from illness. A peaceful living environment will enable to rest well.

6. Get the right amount of rest or sleep

Our bodies and mind will be exhausted after a full day’s work or activities. Sleep enables us to rest our bodies and mind. In addition, sleep replenishes our energy; therefore it is important to have enough sleep daily. An adult should have at least 8 hours of quality sleep whereas a child below the age of 12 should have at least 10 hours sleep.

7. Socializing with family members and friends

In pursuing our busy life, we must not forget to socialize with our family members and friends. A loving family and a circle of good friends that are supportive will make us happy. A sense of belonging and love is important to our mental and emotional health.

A healthy mind and body enable us to live our lives to the fullest, therefore, we must embrace healthy living.

Friday, March 19, 2010

How to juggle between work and family

We as working parents today assume many roles - employee, husband, father, wife and mother. We often ask ourselves this question "work first or family first?" There are different answers to this question. For some, the answer is "work first" and for others it is "family first". Our answers are largely depending on what we want to achieve in lives. It is not surprising for a career orientated person who is constantly looking for career advancement to put work first and on the other hand, a family orientated person will put family first. Work provides us with financial security and a sense of fulfillment. Family gives us emotional support, a sense of love and belonging. Therefore, it is important for us to strike a balance between work and family.

"How to juggle between work and family" is a question that commonly asked by us. With the 24 hours that we have a day and with at least 8 hours a day we spend on our job, it is quite difficult for us to juggle between work and family in order to achieve a balance. The following are some tips to achieve a work and family balance.

1. Get a job that is less demanding

First and foremost, it is important for us to land on a "family friendly" job. What is a "family friendly" job? A "family friendly" job is a job that is not too demanding, less busy, less stressful, and less traveling and which allows us to spend more time with our family. A demanding job will leave us too tired both mentally and physically at the end of the day.

If our job is too demanding we can consider switching to a job that is more relaxing and flexible but still offers the level of income that can sustain our living comfortably.

In addition, it is good to have an understanding boss who understands our needs for our family. An understanding boss will be more empathy, considerate and sensitive. Therefore it is important to have open communication with our boss making sure that our boss knows our needs.

2. Grab free time that we have every day

Our free time within a day can be divided into:

a. Pre work hour

b. After work hour

a. Pre work hour

Pre work hour refers to the time between waking up and before going to work. We can spend quality time with our family during this time. Start our day by waking up early and taking shower. There are many things that we can do to bond with our children like doing brushing and having breakfast together. We can help our children get changed and get them ready for school. If time allowed, we can send our children to school. While sending our children to school, there is opportunity for us to talk to our children and to bond with them.

b. After work hour

Remember to leave our work on time after work hour if there is no urgent work for us to be finished. We should relax ourselves as much as possible when we are at home after work and do not bring tension from work to home. Always leave our work problem at work. If possible, switch off our mobile phone and do not entertain any work related phone call unless it is really urgent and important.

Some of us may need to entertain clients after work. Even so, we should try to be home for dinner as much as possible. Having family dinner together is the best time to bond with our children. While having dinner with our children, we can generate conversation and know how they are doing on that day. This is a way to increase and improve communication between family members.

After dinner and after all the cleaning, we can help our children with their homework and revision. Helping our children with their homework enables us to know how our children are doing in school. In addition, it also helps our children to better cope with their schoolwork.

While putting our children to bed, we can bond with our children by reading them some bedtime stories. It also helps to cultivate interest in reading among our children.

After our children go to bed, it is our time to relax ourselves and to spend some quality time with our spouse such as chatting, exchanging ideas, watching TV together and etc.

Remember to be in bed on time and to get enough sleep. We should have at least 8 hour of sleep a day.

3. Spend quality time during weekend

Weekend enables us to make up time lost during weekdays with our children. It is important to have family day during weekend where we can spend some quality time together as a family doing family activities such as doing household chores, cooking, reading, doing craft work, playing cards, going to libraries, doing sport, eating out, going for a movie, talking a stroll, etc. These family activities will assist to improve our communication with our children.

4. Take leave for emergency and school activities

When our children fall sick, we should take time off from our work to care for our children. When our children are having examination, we can take annual leave to help our children to revise their studies to better equip them for the examination. It is important to take some time off from our work to attend school activities like school sport days, parent and teacher meeting, outing, etc.

5. Celebrate special occasion together as a family

Remember to celebrate our children birthday and spouse birthday as a family. There are many ways that we can celebrate birthday such as having a party, going for movie, eating out, etc. Remembering and celebrating the birthday of our children and spouse will make them feel important and appreciated. This will enhance the loving relationship between family members.

In addition, we can also celebrate special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, etc. By celebrating these special occasions together, we will be able to enjoy the holiday together as a family. In addition, it also provides an us opportunity to introduce the significance and value of the special occasions to our children.

6. Going for trip as a family

It is important to go for a trip as a family. We can take some annual leave during summer holiday and go for trip with our children as a family. This not only enables us to spend quality time with our family and it also gives us a chance to broaden our horizon. It enables us to relax, rejuvenate and to get away from the hustle and bustle of work for a while.

7. Share work together

Remember we are not super men or super women, therefore it is important to share work or divide work with your spouse. There must be sufficient communication and understanding between spouses. Husband and wife should always be a team that support each other and complement each other. Therefore, husband and wife should always go hand in hand in rising children and doing household chores. Do not leave parenting or domestic duties with only one spouse. It is important to come out with a plan that who will do what. We have to be flexible in sharing work.

8. Have time for ourselves

It is important to have time for ourselves out of the busy day to do some exercise or simply to relax. Make sure that we have enough sleep daily.

Being able to juggle between work and family makes our lives less stressful and more meaningful.

How to become a successful stay at home mom

Quitting our job to become a stay at home mom is a big decision for most of us. There is opportunity cost associated with giving up on our job in order to stay at home and raise our children. We will lose our income and other benefits such as medical insurance and retirement funds by giving up on our job. Our lifestyle will change. In addition, parenting is a challenging job that requires a lot of love, patience and knowledge. We can be both mentally and physically exhausted at the end of the day. Therefore, we have to be ready financially, mentally and physically before transforming ourselves into a stay at home mom.

The following steps will enable us to become a successful stay at home mom:

1. Start planning and savings early

We need to plan financially long before our first child is born. At the time when we are still earning two incomes, we have to set aside our income as much as possible as savings. We will be more financially ready when we quit our job.

2. Be ready to work from home

It is important to pursue interests or hobbies that can be transformed into work long before we plan to stay at home. There are many things that we can do from home that need very little capital and that will bring us income such as writing, designing website, crafting, translating, proofreading, painting, photographing, etc. To be financially more secured we can find ways to work from home. We can conduct work from home when our children are having their nap or while they are in school.

3. Be up to date with our job knowledge and skills

Though we are a stay at home mom, it is wise to find ways to maintain our job knowledge and skills on the career that we leave. By keeping in touch with our ex-colleague, we will be aware of the latest development in our career. We can find resources over the Internet that is useful to update our job knowledge. For professional such as accountants, lawyers, etc., remember to maintain professional membership. When there is a need such as loses of job of our spouse or death of our spouse or divorce, we will be able to return to our career easily. This provides us with safety net.

4. Be mentally ready by reading parenting books, resources, etc and taking parenting class

We have to take care our children by ourselves when our spouse is out for work. It can be hard without the help of our spouse because children can be unpredictable. In order to better equip ourselves for parenting and to help us stay motivated, it is necessary for us to read some materials on parenting. We can find useful parenting materials in bookstores and over the Internet. Through reading, we can get some knowledge on parenting and be more mentally prepared.

5. Be connected with society

Stay connected with society and be aware of what is happening around is very importance for stay at home mom. While staying in touch with your friends, also remember to make new friends. We can get to know other parents by attending school activities, etc. By talking to other parents, we can share parenting experience. By talking to teachers in school, we will know how well our children are doing in school. Do not confine ourselves to home only; we can reach out by doing some volunteer work in school and community. This will make our lives more complete and meaningful.

6. Be organised and set up routine

How to start our day as stay at home mom? We have to plan ahead and be organised. Start making a list or a schedule on the things that we want to do and have to do the night before or earlier. Be realistic and set priority. If we cannot accomplish all the things on our schedule within a day, do not feel disappointed and frustrated. Do not be too hard on ourselves and we have to be flexible in certain situation because our children will not always be listening and following. Therefore, it is importance to make some allowances for disruptions and emergency.

It is importance to introduce routine in order to be more organised. Set the time within a day for our children to play, read, do homework, have nap, etc. Start out small by introducing a routine every two or three weeks. Be simple, realistic, relevance and flexible in setting up routine. In addition, do not give up easily and believe that through our perseverance, we will be able to settling into routine.

7. Remember to ask for help and take rest

Do not try to be super mom or perfect mom, know our limits. Ask for help from our spouse when necessary and do not over stretched ourselves. Take some time off for ourselves during the day to do things that we like or simply take rest to relax our mind and body. During weekend, let our spouse spend more time with our children, this will give us time to rest and re-charged ourselves. It will also allow our spouse to bond with the children, to make up time lost during weekdays. Remember to pamper overselves once a while with luxuries such as massage, facial, spa, manicure, etc.

8. Live frugally

When we choose to stay at home, we are actually living on single income. Therefore, we have to adopt a frugal life style. Try to create a cost saving budget that suits the family. We can try to cut our grocery bills by coupon clipping, bulk purchasing, making meal from scratch, cutting out on junk food, eating left over, etc. We can also cut our utilities bills by using fan and limiting the use of air conditioning during summer time. If we have garden, we can grow our own vegetables. Embracing 'Hand-me-down' and passing down the clothing and toys from our older children to our younger children. Be willing to accept old clothing and toys from relatives and friends. There are many ways to live a frugal life and we have to be creative and persistent in pursuing it.

Being a stay at home mom may need sacrifices especially financially, however if we are well prepared financially, mentally, physically, it can be the most rewarding job for us.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Becoming a stay at home mom - a decision to make

In the sixties women's place were at home raising their children. With the advancement of society over the years, many women have received higher education and there is a shift of women's place from home to office. In addition, the high cost of living today makes earning additional income inevitable. Many women are working either full time or part time today to support their family.

Therefore, we, women, once have children, are often facing dilemma. There are choices to be made. Some may opt to work full time and leave their children with childcare centers, grandparents, relatives or nannies. On the other hand, some may choose to live on single income and be a stay at home mom.

Our decision to give up our jobs and to stay at home comes with costs. It is a life changing decision; therefore, before we make transition from a working mom to a stay at home mom, it is wise to evaluate the pros and cons of staying at home.

The benefits of staying at home are as below:

1. Bonding with children

Spending time with our children during their formative years is very important. Our children need our attention and loves. If we are stay at home moms, we will be there always to love our children, guide them, instill good values and shape good behaviour. Our children will bond with us more and this will help to develop a loving and trusting relationship between our children and us. This is very important in the development of children.

2. Making sure children's needs are being met

When we are stay at home mom, we can ensure that our children's needs are being met. We make sure that they are properly fed and clothed. We are able to help them with their homework and make sure that they are not late for school. We will be able to ensure that our children go to bed on time. We will have less worries comparing to leaving our children with babysitters.

3. More focus and less stress

Being a stay at home mom, we can focus our attention solely on our family, as we do not have to juggle between work and home. We are the bosses at home and we can decide on schedules that best suited us. We will not bring our tension from work to home. It is less stressful comparing to if we have to divide our time between work and home. Being less stressful, we will have more patience with our children and family.

The disadvantages of being a stay at home mom is as below:

1. Lack of financial security

Being stay at home mom means forgoing our career and living on single income. Living on single income may not be easy given the high cost of living today. In addition, there is less protection on us; we will lose our medical insurance and retirement funds. We may be forced to forgo our present standard of living, as there is less income to sustain it. We will have fewer funds to pay for our mortgage and for emergency. We may lose support in case of death of spouse or divorce. We have to be mentally ready for all these.

2. 24 hours on call

We may be working around the clock at home. Our children may become too attached to us leaving us little time to rest. Our spouse may too dependence on us on running the household. We may end up doing all the household chores such as running errands, cleaning and cooking. We will be both mentally and physically exhausted.

3. Lose touch with society

Our lives as stay at home mom circles around our children and family. We may lose touch with our friends from work since our interests will be mostly on family and children. We will be busy taking care of our family with very little time for socialising with friends, exchanging ideas, etc. Hence, we will be easily lose touch with society.

In closing, whatever decision that we make in the end, it is important to discuss it with our spouse and always ensure that our spouse supports the decision that we are going to make.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Simple Living

Over the years we have invented a lot of things to make our lives easier and for pleasure. As our society becomes more affluence, we have also became more materialistic. Being expose to so many things, we are tempted to consume more. For some people, owning things reflect their status quo, for them they feel richer with more things they own. However, over consumption may lead to wastage. It may also creates more debts for some of us. Our valuable time is tighted up by pursuing things. In contrast, simple living may allow us to live more fruitfully. Simple living frees us from busyness, disorganisation, stress and debts.

What is simple living? Simple living is a lifestyle characterised by consuming things that are necessary to sustain our living. Simple living is a choice, a voluntary choice and it is not living simple due to proverty. Therefore, simple living can also be referred as "Voluntary simplicity".

How to pursue simple living?

1. Embracing 'simple living' mind-set

The first step towards simple living is to have a positive thinking on simple living.  If we have positive thinking on simple living, we should be able to comprehend the benefits that simple living will bring and make it as a goal to be followed in our daily lives.   We should embrace "less is more" mind-set.

2. Freeing our home from stuff

Our home is the first place where we start practicing simple living.  Therefore, we should take steps to declutter our home.  When our home is full of stuff, there is  tendency to be disorganised.  It will be stressful and uncomfortable to live in a messy and untidy home, hence do not hesitate to free our home from unnecessary stuff.  We can donate excessive clothing, books and electrical appliances to the needy in our communities.  We can also sell our clothing and electrical appliances to second hand shops and donate our books to the libraries. Decluttering not only frees our home from stuff but also benefits others.  Therefore, we should constantly look for ways to declutter our home.

3. Embracing technology

We can now read free online newspapers, storing our photos in the Computer, watching free movies online, downloading free music online and etc.   The advance of technology brings convenience to our lives and makes our lives more simple.   By reading newspapers online, we do not have to buy newspapers, it makes our home paperless and by storing photos in the Computer, we do not have to buy photos albums, this will save storage space.  

However, embracing technology does not mean that we have to constantly pursuing new technology.  Some of us may get rid of our existing mobile phones whenever there is a new model in the market.  This will lead to wastage.  Therefore, in embracing technology to make our lives more simple, we should limit ourselves to the technology that will bring convenience to our lives, make our lives more environmental friendly and yet not creating wastage.

4. Curbing spending and eliminating excessive buying

Simple living also means living below our means and buy only the necessaties.   Excessive buying not only leads us to debts, it also leaves our home full of stuff.  We should re-use things and constantly look for ways to re-cycle things.

Simple living is a simple life but yet abundance. Simple living is a good life and if you wish to live simply, start embracing it today by taking a small step each day.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Frugal living

Life is a choice. Some people spend their money to enjoy every bit of their lives whereas some people choose to live simply. The choices that we made greatly affect our lives and our financial security.
The experience of financial crisis in 1997 and financial tsunami in 2008 have taught many to live frugally and to set aside some money for emergency such as lose of job, sudden sickness, etc. Despite this, many are still wondering how to live frugally and to most people, it may seem impossible, for them frugality means deprivation. However, frugality does not mean deprivation, it means living below your means.
With the money that one earn, how can one live frugally?
By taking the following steps, one may be able to live a frugal life:
1. Assess income

Determine how much income we actually earn is very important. It will determine how much money we can spend every month.

2. Determine expenses

It is important to see where your money go every month. By tracking our monthly expenses we will be able to see what areas we are over spending and what areas we should spend more.

3. Make a budget

By bringing together income and expenses, we will be able to make a budget that will sustain our living and yet not deprive us from enjoyment. It will curb overspending and help us to shape good spending habit.

Though following the budget may be difficult initially but we will get used to it after several attempts so start your frugal living today.