Teens, how to live your best year ever!

Teens : How to live your best year ever!

Being a teenager is a fun, but challenging time, isn’t it? You manage a lot. Through a few easy steps, you will be able to stay on top of your schoolwork, room, friends, social media, sports and ALL of your activities!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all you have on your plate, don’t worry- you’re not alone! Being organized and managing time better are skills that can be learned at any age.

Bedroom:

If your room looks like a tornado hit it, don’t be hard on yourself. Rather than focus on what it looks like, think of how it makes you feel. Are you embarrassed to invite friends over? Are you frustrated because you can’t find what you need? The motivation to change must come from you.

Here are some simple steps to get started. Turn on your favorite music, ask a family member or a friend to come and help. Or play a much loved film or series in the background. Make it fun and the time will fly!

1.Declutter: A little bit at a time (you can set your timer for 15 minutes), or all in one go, go through each of your things and ask yourself: Do I love it? Do I need it? If you answer no to both questions, the item is clutter and needs to go! Consider donating items that can still be used to a younger sibling, a friend, or a local non-profit.

2.Set up zones: Make a list of what you need to do in your room and create zones to meet those needs, for example:

  • SLEEP (Rest Zone- bed, nightstand, clock)
  • HOMEWORK (Study Zone – desk and supplies, chair, lamp, book shelf and books)
  • GET READY FOR SCHOOL (Dressing Zone- dresser, closet, mirror, vanity)
  • EXPRESS YOURSELF /DISPLAY ITEMS (“Me” Zone- posters, photos, trophies)

3.Sort and put away “keep”items: The items you decide to keep should fit into one of your designated zones. Keep like things together in containers so they are easy to find. For items you don’t need to access often, like out of season clothes or accessories, put them in the least accessible places, under your bed or at the very top of your closet for example. So your day to day things are in the easy to get spots!

Time/Schedule:

  1. Determine priorities: What are your priorities- schoolwork, social life, sports, family time? Make a list of your top 5 priorities. Then make sure you’re spending your time according to what’s on your list. If one of your priorities is to improve your maths grade, but you are spending little or no time studying, you’ll need to put more time into your schedule to do so.
  2. Use a planner: To learn to better manage your time, start to think of it as something you can actually see. Set up (on paper or digitally) your typical week including all the activities you have each day in blocks of time, for example: school 8am-4pm, judo practice 7pm-8pm. This will help you visualize when you have free time to slide in other activities you need or want to do.
  3. Have a to do list: Having the ability to see what you need to do takes away the pressure of having to remember everything. List your tasks for the day (homework, chores, etc.). Next to each item in the list, estimate how much time it will take to complete. Find slots of time to schedule your to do items in your planner. You can make it fun by color-coding, green for school items and blue for activities and sports.

Try one or all of these tips. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and will be motivated to do more. I promise you’ll be glad you did it!

 

How to work from home with children!

During or after confinement working from home with children can feel like you now have two full time jobs! Here are a few tips to help you!

Some people say you should schedule working hours and stick to them. All parents know doing exactly what you have planned with your kids around is if not impossible, very difficult. Concentrating with children around isn’t as easy as in a quiet office. It’s because we hope it will be the same that we can feel frustrated.

So let’s try to do our best, but not be to hard on ourselves.  Try to set reasonable goals you can achieve in one day. Maybe your workday will be longer with you going back to the computer after dinner, or early in the morning. But at least you won’t have spent any time commuting, and you will have spent more time with your family than you usually do.

  • On your child’s side
  1. First make plenty of activities available to them, maybe by changing them each day. Make sure they will have had played with all or most of their toys, and had access to all their colouring and activity books. Do that by bringing down what is too high up on the shelves, or forgotten for too long under the bed.
  2. Then get outside help when you can (I’m not talking traditionnal babysitting here obviously). We have been lucky enough that our son’s grandparents have skyped with him almost every day, reading books to him, playing guessing games, or playing games through sites like jeux.fr (and using teamviewer to control his screen). His latest whim is discovering a new story he will then tell them when he “sees them”. You can maybe also enrole other older family members who will be happy with the distraction!
  3. If you want good quality ressources when you really need to put your child in front of a screen, so you can have that important phone call, or concentrate, click here!
  4. Furthermore, children regularly need their parents’ attention. I find I give my son his time with me rather sooner than later. Once he has had his dose of cuddling, playing or talking, he seems to detach more easily, and is happy doing something else, or going to see his dad. Some families slip their time by having one parent responsible in the morning, the other one in the afternoon.
  • For you:
  1. Get some physical activity together, whether it’s going outside in your garden, or a brisk walk in the neighbourhood (if regulations permit), or dancing together in the living room. It will be a great break for both of you!
  2. And take care of yourself too, even if it means taking 20 minutes to read a book, listen  to music,  something inspiring, or meditate (like with Headspace or Calm).

I wish you the best of luck!

 

Things your children can do (almost) on their own!

children
As your family is going through confinement, you might be looking for new activities to do with, or without your children.
Here are a list! Click on the links!
  • Audio books

Go to this super site with quality audio books for children from 0 to 12 years old. You can choose books about pairates, magic, history, handling money, any subject, really. And you children don’t have to look at the screen if it’s an audio book! Free for 30 days, or if you create a teacher’s account with a school email. getepic.com

  • Youtube

Sing along with your little ones to Dave and Ava or Super Simple Songs.

Do yoga with plenty of different themes (Easter, Pokemon, etc) your children will love with Cosmic kids!

Odd Squad is great for kids from 6 to preteens.

  • Games

Here are two French sites jeux.fr and jeuxjeuxjeux.fr to play alone, or with a friend or family member anywhere in the world. They have games like chess, noughts and crosses, 4 in a row, and more elaborate ones your child can play alone, or with a friend or family member from anywhere in the world using teamwiewer (the adult on the other side will take control of your screen so he/she deals with the technical/ game details, while you can be doing something else in another room, and leave your child “with” that person).

  • Learning for teenagers and young adults

Tell your older children about bbc.co.uk/education, it was made by British students, on all subjects! Learningenglish.voanews.com is also a must go to!

Finally if they want to improve their language skills in other languages, this is an interesting site: duolingo.com

and here’s the best free app for translating written or oral messages in any language! Conversation Traduction

I hope all this helps, if you have more ressources, please add them in the comments section!

And if you are looking for advice on how to work from home with kids during confinement, read this!

Homemade mask!

Wearing a homemade mask may sound like a silly idea, but it isn’t! It could help stop the Covid-19 epidemic as shown in these graphs.

Watch the video at the bottom of this article to make your homemade mask from fabric you have at home, and without having to sew!

Researchers from the University of Cambridge tested homemade masks after the aftermath of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic.They were made out of tshirts. Eventhough surgical masks stopped 15% more particles than DIY masks, scientists were surpises by how well coton masks performed. Wearing a mask is better than wearing no mask, they concluded.

Scientists from the Netherlands advise us to wear homemade masks made from dishcloth.

Here is a video to make your own homemade masks with a tea towel. No sewing needed!

Fashion: green is the new black, and how to get there!

maximize your wardrobe
© Adrienne Leonard/Unsplash

Fast and cheaper fashion today means we are tempted to fill our closets with unnecessary items that are hardly worn. It’s hard to not feel a tinge of guilt when environmentalist Greta Thunberg is taking the world by storm with her call for environmental action. CEOs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are known for having worn the same thing every day. Marie Kondo is infiltrating homes and impacting people’s lives on Netflix encouraging them to de-clutter. Everywhere we turn we are being told to live more responsibly and make more sustainable choices.

“Did you know that fast fashion is now the second-largest polluter in the world?” 

The global apparel and footwear industry accounts for 8 percent of the world’s greenhouse emissions. Yet with a bit of effort, it’s possible to help the planet, and find joy in your wardrobe in the process!

Read these four smart and purse-friendly tips to revolutionize your wardrobe!

Reorganize

By going through what you own and putting them into categories, you might notice you have all you need to have fun! Did you forget you had that pretty outfit or those cool boots? The first thing to do is shop in your own wardrobe, and give a new life to some of your items by styling them up or styling them down. Wear that colorful summer dress with your leather jacket and boots to give it an edge. Dress down the party frock with flats, or add heels and a soft shirt to a pair of jeans. The girl in you is going to rock today!

Reuse

When you really need new pieces and want to go planet-friendly, buy second hand or have a clothes swap party with your girlfriends, and their girlfriends, so each of you finds something to love. Mend that cherished outfit where the zipper is broken so you can wear it again.

© WiIl Malott/Unsplash

Repurpose

Are you dying to wear that coat again, but just feel something is off? Maybe just changing the buttons will be what you needed to get rid of its strange dated look. Love that hairpin but don’t dare wear it in your hair? Bring it into your life by clipping it to your sweater, blazer, scarf or bag!

And what if you really don’t like or wear the item? The best solution is to offer it to someone you know will appreciate it, or donate it to a charity. In Paris, Emmaüs, a local woman’s shelter, or a local church will pass it on to someone who needs it and will use it! La Cravate Solidaire  collects office-appropriate clothes, shoes and accessories for men and women to help for job interviews to boost their confidence!

Rethink

When going through your wardrobe or out shopping, ask yourself these simple questions:
– Should I buy this item that I might already have somewhere in my wardrobe?
– Do I love this and will I still wear it for more than a season?
– Does this feel good? Or does it feel too tight, too short or too dull for me?

If you are in the store, and are very tempted to take something, but aren’t 100% sure, then buy it. Keep the price tags on, so you can see if you still like it after a few days. If you just aren’t that pleased with it, bring it back to the store and get your money back. Reclaim your precious closet space! It should be reserved for items you really wear and like!

“Call it eco-fashion if you like. I think it’s just common sense.”
– Livia Firth

We can have fun with our clothes without it being at the expense of the planet. Just tweak a few of your clothing habits and the coming generations will be thankful you did!

Meal prep! 6 fast, healthy and easy tips!

Meal planning is the answer you’ve found to the question: what’s for dinner tonight, but you are short on ideas of meals to prepare?

Read on and find plenty of things to mix and match!

  1.  nuts, and raw vegetables

First and foremost I like to have things handy for us to have if we’re very hungry while I am cooking the meal. Best options are nuts, and raw vegetables like cherry tomatoes, cucumber or carrot sticks, some green peppers, cauliflower, or salad leaves. All these can be eaten anywhere in the house as the won’t get any space dirty, and are easy to handle, even for little kids. My son loves eating any of these, as if they were chips! If you want to upgrade this, you can have houmous or guacamole to dip them in!

2. any kind of wraps

Everybody loves food put into a wrap, galette bretonne (buckwheat pancake from Brittany), fajita, nacho, chapati (flat Indian bread), find a simple recipe, and make them home made. To make them into a complete dish, add anything you like: any cheese, any sauce, sliced tomatoes or mushrooms, left over cooked vegetables like slices of courgette, cooked slices of apple or apple sauce. You can also add any cooked or roasted meat or fish, corn, or avocado. This also works with toast or hamburger rolls.

3. lentils, beans and legumes

They are excellent sources of dietary fiber, protein, B vitamins and many other important vitamins and minerals.They help reduce blood sugar, help maintain a healthy gut and improve cholesterol levels.Add them to soups, stews and salads. My favourite meal definately contains a lentil dish, for example, throw in cold water lentils, sliced carrots and smoked bacon, leave to cook for 20 to 30 minutes, et voilà!

4. eggs

You can make eggs the basis of any meal; throw in almost any vegetable, meat, fish, and/or cheese into an omelette, with scrambled eggs, or fried eggs. Kids love slices of toast with butter they can dip into a hard boiled egg! My personal favourite are deviled eggs!
5. cereal
Pasta and rice is good, but what about also using buckwheat, millet or quinoa! They can easily be incorporated to any vegetarian or non vegetarian meal!
6. Use your oven!
If you want to prepare a hot meal without having to stur the food in all the time, so it doesn’t cling to your pan, use your oven! Prepare lasagna, (home made) pizza, quiche, or roasted vegetables (cut green peppers, turnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes or courgettes into slices, add olive oil).

How long should you keep your papers and documents in France?

home and office organiser

Despite technology leaps, worries about deforestation, and the space it takes in your home or office, business and every day activities in France still generate an enormous stack of papers and documents!

This list is by no means exhaustive, but the rule is: if in any doubt, keep it.

Why not print this article and keep it visible in the front of your files? That way, you’ll remember to have an annual clear-out.

WHILE GUARANTEE IS VALID AND BEYOND

  •   Bank statements and pay-in slips
  •  Car purchase papers
  •  House and vehicle insurance contracts
  •  Invoices and receipts for repairs or services
  •  Receipts for work or repairs to property
  •  Invoices for household goods with guarantee
  •  Estate agents’ fees and commissions
  •  Insurance compensation claims (longer for medical compensation)

1 YEAR

  •  Loan repayments (30 yrs from final payment)
  •  Phone bills
  •  Car repairs
  •  Chimney sweeping certificate (needed for fire insurance)
  •  Construction and building work
  •  Local taxes (foncières and habitation)

2 YEARS

  • Medical records
  • Xrays
  • Water bills

4 YEARS

  • Divorce papers proof of payment of taxes
  • Passports and identity documents income Tax returns
  •  House and property deeds tax rebates
  •  Salary, pay and social security payments slips (at least until you retire) 3 YEARS
  •  Life insurance policies television licence
  •  Inheritance documents

5 YEARS

  • Wills and testaments rent receipts and contracts
  • Birth and marriage, death certificates (not just your own – parent’s certificates too) electricity and gas bils
  • Diplomas and qualifications life insurance premiums
  • Military service papers

10 YEARS

  • Cheques to pay in (maximum before paying in)
  • Mortgage papers (10 yrs after final payment)

30 YEARS

  • Insurance cancellation papers
  • Employment contracts (until you retire) insurance premiums other than life insurance
  • Cheque stubs doctors’, dentists’, and chemists’ bills
  •  All pension papers, medical prescriptions
  •  Receipts for payment of: motoring fines
  •  Hospital bills, social security payments
  • Notaire fees

 

The information in this article is provided for informational purposes and does not constitute legal, professional or financial advice. For the French government’s official document go to (in French):   https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F19134

Organize working from home!

Working from home can be a challenge. Here are a few things to think about to help you organise your space:

Can I have an entire room,  just a desk area, or is there no place I can dedicate completely to working from home?

When will this space be used? Rather in the evenings or during the day? If it’s during the day, move closer to a window. For the evening choose the right lighting so as not to tire your eyes.

Who will be at home while I work? Can I work properly in the living room if my roommate or spouse, or children are there? Or do I need a fallback solution to concentrate and / or make phone calls?

Who will use this office?

Working from home, what material do I need? A computer, printer, filing room, supplies, electrical outlets, wifi connection, billboard, books?

What will my work schedules be?

What are my goals? Once I know what my goals are, I need to list what my tasks to do are this month, this week, and today.

Personally I adopt the solution of the flying office. That is, I only take the material I need (usually my computer, my diary with my to do list, and my phone), and I move to the best place;

  • when I need all my files, to sort mail for example, I settle in front of my bookshelf, where all my files are easily accessible.
  • if I need to isolate myself from the rest of the family I use a side table in my room,
  • during the day I sit at the dining room table bathed in natural light,
  • and in the evening I put my flying desk in my storage bookcase, out of site, out of mind in seconds!

So even with little space I can work efficiently from home, without cluttering my living space. And I can move on once I’m done! Come on, it’s time for apéro!