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Promoting A Healthy Lifestyle in Children: Why Outdoor Activities Are Crucial

Anna Smith

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When my son was ten months old, we traveled to visit his grandparents. About one hour into the trip, he started to cry. Then scream. Then shriek. After trying all of my new mom tricks, I eventually begged my husband to pull over where I unstrapped him and plopped him in a small patch of grass behind a gas station. Much to our delighted ears, he stopped crying! Grasping onto a few blades of dewy grass he was quickly and magically occupied with the small bugs, light breeze, and dancing clouds.

I think of that experience often when our family is starting to annoy each other. Have we been inside too long? Yes! The answer is always yes. Get outside and experience immediate relief while getting some of that sunshine.

Activate Imagination

Image courtesy of Rebel Without A Pause

Exploring the outdoors activates the imagination of all ages. When children are roaming their own corridors, looking at the same toys, or worse, at the same screen, they tend to recreate the same scenes. Instead, put on some sunscreen and head out the door. They might complain at first, but pretty soon, your children will be Lewis and Clark in their makeshift wagons, or walking the plank with that broken tree branch, or making raspberry tea from the fresh bush. The ever-changing wonder of the outdoors triggers children’s imaginations in exciting ways.

Get Some Fresh Air and Vitamin D

Image courtesy of Restoration Church

I think we are all familiar with the pent-up frustration of cabin fever. But did you know that we also receive tremendous physical benefits from the sun? Vitamin D received through the sun helps prevent cancer and strengthens bones. The fresh air can help motivate children to move and this exercise ensures their fitness appropriate weight. Getting some sunshine will have a wonderful effect on your psyche, too.

Foster a Love of the Environment

Image Courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah

One of the greatest joys of taking children outside is helping them become stewards of the Earth. Fostering a love and respect for nature helps us all realize we are part of a larger ecosystem of interrelated organisms. With their own eyes, children can see with the deer eating the flowers and the squirrels scavenging for nuts. Witnessing such life can show kids that the Earth’s creatures rely on each other. This translates to an understanding of their own role in Mother Nature.

The next time your child says “I’m bored” or “can I be on my screen?” encourage them to head outside to nature’s playground while getting some of that sunshine.

Did you like this article? Check out some of our other content on parenting, including:

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Home Improvement

What to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Rental

Anna Smith

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brown and white wooden table beside sofa chair

Buying a vacation rental is a big decision, and it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve done your research before making such a large commitment. Here are some important things to consider before buying a vacation rental.

Location

The most important item that you should consider before buying a vacation rental property is location, location, location. Is there a high demand for your vacation market? Are you close enough to shops, cultural sites, tourism destinations, maintenance companies, and grocery stores?  Considering questions such as these will help you find the best place to purchase a vacation rental. Although properties in high demand areas will be more expensive, the return on those properties is much greater.  Location is more important than initial price. 

Rental Income

In order to buy a vacation rental, many homeowners will have to take out a second mortgage. Because of this, it’s important to make good financial decisions, such as making sure that the rental property can cover its own monthly costs. Consider how much rental income you can reasonably generate, and if it can offset your mortgage.  In the vacation market, there will most likely be an “offseason,” or a time of the year when renting is slow.  As the owner of the property, you must find a way to maintain your rental income, whether that is through ensuring continual renters, charging enough during the busy seasons that you can cover some decreased costs during the offseason, or both.  

Added Maintenance Costs

Oftentimes vacation homes are located in expensive areas.  “Expensive” areas could be areas that are more remote (i.e. mountains, wilderness, and national parks) or areas with high population and desirability, like beaches or big cities.  Regardless of the area in which your vacation home is located, maintenance costs will likely be much higher than in an average neighborhood. Scarce contracting resources in remote areas, or high contracting overhead and demand in high populated areas are contributing factors to this.  Recognizing that maintaining your vacation home oftentimes can be more expensive than maintaining your primary home is important before buying a vacation rental.

Home Styles

The style of your vacation home can impact its popularity among renters. Popular home styles in the United States include colonial houses, farmhouses, Victorian homes, Cape Cod homes, mid-century modern homes, and craftsman homes. Beach houses and cabins are also quite popular among vacationers. You might consider buying a home and remodeling it to fit one of these popular styles. You could also choose to build instead of buying. When you build a home, you get to choose from a variety of custom home styles. The flexibility that comes with building a custom home can be a great asset.

Amenities

One factor in ensuring that your vacation rental has enough renters is making sure that your house has the amenities that your target market desires. It’s a good idea to research the needs and wants of your particular target market. For example, a beach townhouse will not have RV and ATV parking areas, and a cabin might not have the same amenities as a beach house. It’s important to make sure the house has what the people want. While you might want to consider buying a home that has specific amenities suited to the needs of your target market, there are several amenities that generally appeal to most people. A pool table, hot tub, and TV are generally safe bets for vacation homes. If you want to attract renters, put money into the amenities.  You want to give renters something that they wouldn’t get at home.

Marketing Strategies

As the vacation rental market is becoming more popular, it’s likely that you will have a good amount of competition. There are hundreds of properties on all the major listing sites, and it’s not always easy to get your property to stand out from the crowd. Before buying a vacation rental, you should take some time to lay the foundation of a marketing strategy that can help you drive traffic to your vacation home. You can find renters better as you create an attention-grabbing listing, and advertising your properties on several online platforms. You should also research property promotion and pricing strategies before buying a vacation home.

Taxes and Interest Rates

Taxes and interest rates vary by location.  A vacation home in California is much more likely to have higher rates than a cabin in the woods of Idaho.  If money is tight and this is your first location home, pay close attention to taxes and interest.

Laws and Regulations

There are laws and regulations that govern the vacation rental market. These rules will vary depending on the local laws for each location. You should make yourself aware of these rules before you buy a vacation rental, as these local laws could highly impact your decision. General rules that apply to most locations include obtaining a permit and business license, obeying taxation rules, safety regulations, and insurance regulations.

Continuous Cash Flow

Because purchasing a vacation rental is a big investment, it’s a good idea to calculate your expected cash flow before you commit. You should do some market research and talk to other vacation rental landlords and business professionals. Try to get an idea of the amount of vacation renters in your prospective area. Making sure your vacation rental will be regularly frequented with interested renters is one important factor in the success of any investment. You should also try to estimate the number of needed repairs and maintenance for your property. If your property will cost more money than it brings in, it’s clear you will have a problem with continuous cash flow.  

There are many benefits that can come with investing in a vacation rental property. It’s a great way to supplement your income, cash in on tax benefits, and increase your enjoyment. Considering these few ideas before making that investment will help you make an informed and intelligent decision.

Here’s another article you might like: 3 Cost-Saving Tips for Vacationing with Your Family

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News For The New Mainstream

3 Tips for Traveling Around Boston With a Big Family

Anna Smith

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architectural photography of city

Boston makes an ideal family vacation. A host of historical monuments, old churches, interesting museums, and more dot the landscape of this diverse city. It is important to remember that Boston is a major metropolitan area, making it important that you know how to get around its environs. Here are three tips for traveling around Boston with a big family.

Making Your Plans

The key to a seamless travel experience is to plan ahead. This is especially crucial when traveling with kids. Although you want to be sure to leave room for spontaneity, it is a good idea to have a basic daily plan in place. Even something as easy as making all of your dinner reservations in advance so that you are not scrambling at the last minute can help to make your trip go more smoothly. The last thing that you want is a meltdown with children because they got hungry or overtired. You should also make sure to schedule rest time during the middle of the day if you are traveling with young kids in tow.

Driving Tips

Before you take to the streets of Boston, it is vital that you know how you are going to tackle the traffic. Traveling during the off times will help you to avoid traffic congestion. If you have to travel during busy times premium SUV models can be more comfortable for your family. You may be stuck in the car for a while, so it is important that your kids have enough room to spread out. This will make for a more pleasant experience for everyone in the family.

See It on Foot

One of the best things about Boston is that it is an easily walkable city. The major tourist spots are located in a compact area, making it easy to hit a lot of attractions traveling on foot. The highlight of any trip to Boston is walking the Freedom Trail. This 2.5-mile trail traverses downtown Boston, hitting 16 historic locations as you follow the red brick path at your feet. Along the way, you will pass a collection of museums, historic homes, churches, burying grounds, and more. If you get tired of walking, you can also utilize the city’s extensive subway system, affectionately known as the “T.”

Exploring Boston is a great way to expose your children to the birthplace of the nation. You will experience a more enjoyable trip if you plan ahead and with your children’s needs in mind.

Planning on taking a road trip to Boston from far away? Read more great tips here: Traveling Long Distance With Kids in the Car

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Health & Fitness

Foods You Can Make Healthier from Scratch at Home

Anna Smith

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Foods You Can Make Healthier from Scratch at Home

Eating healthy can sometimes be a hassle. It is expensive to buy food that is certified organic, and those costs just continue to increase. As an alternative to buying expensive healthy foods, here are some that you can make from scratch at home.

Bread

One thing that you can make from scratch is bread. While you will have to most likely purchase specific bread pans, bread is one of the cheaper foods to make from home and has been by people for centuries. Bread, at its simplest, contains flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and water. There are dozens if not hundreds of recipes for making homemade bread. Most all of them however will require the presence of yeast, or saccharomyces cerevisiae. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is one of the oldest foods still used in the world, used in other foods like wine and other baked goods.

Yogurt

Homemade yogurt is an incredibly simple food to make, requiring just whole milk and a yogurt culture. Yogurt culture is a culture of bacteria that metabolizes the enzyme lactase, which is present in all milk products. This is why a lot of people who are lactose intolerant can eat yogurt with little to no problems. To make homemade yogurt, buy a yogurt culture, which can simply be a cup of your favorite plain yogurt brand, that you add to milk and let ferment overnight. There are many different variations that you can make, such as adding honey for a sweeter yogurt. Yogurt can also keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Granola

Granola is another good food that you can make healthier from scratch at home. There are dozens of variations of homemade granola, but each includes dry and wet ingredients. The dry ingredients include oats, almonds, coconuts, sunflower seeds, and anything else you might want to add. The wet ingredients form a syrup, which includes honey, butter or oil and vanilla that you warm up and then pour over the dry ingredients which are then spread into a pan and baked in the oven. Each recipe of homemade granola varies, but most agree that it is much simpler, less expensive, and very healthy compared to store bought granola.

While it does take a little extra effort to make food from scratch at home, it will pay off in the end because the food will be healthier and tastier than food from the store.

Here’s another article you might like: Vegetables That Are Healthier When Eaten Raw

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