Helping Aging Parents

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  One of the most challenging things to do in our adult lives will be dealing with our aging parents. Many of us are sandwiched between elderly parents and young children. Nearly half of adults in their 40's have a parent age 70 or older and we are also either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child. Take a breath 'cuz it's a lot to handle!

It's time to face the reality and be as well equipped as possible to deal with the responsibilities that come with caring for parents and children simultanously.

Besides dealing with the usual unknowns of daily life, taking care of our parents may quickly become a daily responsibility. One of the hardest things to do will be to convince a parent to move out of their long-time home or get the care they need. Often they get to a point where they cannot live on their own and they will need more support.

Here are a few basic tips to use and to help things stay in perspective while in this extremely difficult process.

IMPORTANT ITEMS TO DISCUSS:

CAREGIVING - Caregiving is a family affair. Often the child who lives closest to the parent is going to handle most of the burden simply because of proximity. It is important to gather your brothers, sisters, children and uncles and aunts together to address an ailing loved ones needs. It is good to have a meeting and discuss the problem, without the parent present, and be realistic about the situation.

THE FUTURE: It’s never too early to start to have regular conversations about what the future holds. Approach it as your problem instead of your parent's problem, If you tell them 'you have to do this, or do that’, you'll lose them. Instead say something like, 'Mom, I'm concerned about you; it makes me worried to see you like this.'" Share your concerns from YOUR perspective and try to get a plan in place.

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POWER OF ATTORNEY: Important items to address include financial issues and who will act as the elder's durable power of attorney for health care. "One of the most important things is to decide who will make the critical decisions,". Typically a family approach is recommended where one capable person be appointed as the elder's primary advocate. This person, whether a son or daughter or adult grandchild, should be in charge of financial decisions and act as the elder's durable power of attorney for health care.

FINAL WISHES:

Although difficult, take the time to talk to your parent(s) about their final wishes. Do they have plans already made or do they avoid the discussion like the plague? The more you know, the less you have to worry about the "what if's". Traditions, buriel/cremation plans, financial situations and any other wishes should be discussed and ideally documented.

The more open and honest everyone is the better the outcome. This is often a challenging time for most families but you need to try and look at the bright side. Life is short, the people that drive you crazy are the ones you're going to miss the most!

Try to stay present, get support, communicate effectively (not emotionally) and be grateful every day.  It's also good to keep in mind the way you treat/talk about your parents in front of your children. They are also learning about caring for people and what they see from you sets the tone for their general compassion.

Try to come from a place of love. This is what being an adult is all about!

Organized Lunch Packing

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Hallelujah!

For us, school starts tomorrow. Many of your kids may not go back tomorrow but within the next few weeks we will all have to face the dreaded, daily lunch packing challenge! Being prepared is crucial to staying organized for this daily task. Here are a few tips to make the process easier and maybe even a little bit fun!

  1. Involve your kids. Sit down with your kids ahead of time to plan out some good balanced lunch options. Use the simple guidelines below to create yummy and healthy snack/lunch ideas that are easy to pack. Pay attention to what they like. If you're just packing what you think they should eat, it will probably just get thrown out. Work with them to create a lunch they will actually eat and give them the energy they need to get through the day.
  2. Make lunch cards. Grab some index cards and write down their lunch options. Create at least 5 different, balanced lunches on paper. Involve your kids in this process. Now that you have your lunches planned out, they can select which one they want for the next day. Keep cards clipped on the fridge or in an accessible jar or bin in the kitchen. Pick a card, pack it up, throw in a water and you're set to go!
  3. Make their lunch the day before. I always pack their lunches after I empty out the lunch box they brought home that day. After school, have them empty out their lunch box and set it on the counter. Depending on their age, they can pack it themselves or you can do it together. Store packed lunch in the fridge. In the morning put an ice pack in to keep things cool.
  4. Be prepared: They may not be the healthiest but buy some pre-packed snacks so they are easy to just throw in. Coupled with some protein, fresh fruit and veggies these are fine in moderation and make lunch making a whole lot easier. Some good options are: yogurt tubes, string cheese, chips or Goldfish, hummus with pretzels, crackers, KIND bars, Z bars... You get the idea. You can also pre-pack fruits and veggies. Carrots, celery, cucumber, frozen grapes, tangerine slices etc. pre-packed in baggies will stay fresh a few days in the fridge. Keep these items stocked and stored together in the fridge or pantry. Let everyone know those are for lunches and off-limits while at home.
  5. Have supplies handy. Make sure you have a few good lunch boxes, water bottles, baggies, spoons, forks and plastic containers with lids on hand. There are so many options and many reusable baggies and containers to use too. Know what works for your child. If he/she is always losing his/her expensive water bottle and lunch box, try a paper bag, disposable baggies and store-bought plastic water bottles.
  6. Send love. Have a few cute "love" notes already cut out to pop in for your little cutie! Pinterest has some awesome "lunch box note" printables available for free. No matter how old your child is, seeing a little note from you will always put a smile on their face!

Be realistic. Staying organized is really just some thoughtful thinking and planning ahead. If you turn this "chore" into a habit, involve your kids and have the right items on hand, you'll be setting yourself up for success and your kids will be well nourished and able to focus in class.

So...pack on CHEERS to a great, first week back at school!352bb167cde8da81a21f0d5dc29b3b8c

Organized Shopping

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I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. How many times have you gone into a store to buy one or two things and $200.00 (or more!) later, you have a car full of stuff you didn’t intend to buy? We are all guilty of buying things that we simply just don’t need. Whether we are at the grocery store, Nordstrom, Costco or Target (my personal faves.) we all could use more help when it comes to shopping more thoughtfully. Luckily for you, I am here to give you some tips on how to change all that and stay on task when in the stores so... listen up!

Tip 1: Figure out what your weekly financial allotment is for shopping; food, necessities, clothing, auto, pet supplies etc. and set a realistic budget that you can stick to. If you have a joint account with your spouse, make sure he or she is on the same page as you. Work this out as a team, otherwise you are headed for some heated arguments and possibly the couch!

If you need help creating a budget, there are dozens of interactive tools available online, including your bank. If you have a smartphone, apps are handy for managing your spending on the go. Once you are able to recognize certain spending patterns, you can decide what it is that you would like to change. Do some research and you will be on your way to setting up an easy to follow shopping budget for you and your family.

Bonus tip: try to use cash when you go shopping. You will DEFINITELY stay within budget if all you have is the cash in your wallet.

Tip 2: After you have the financials figured out, encourage yourself, every day, to shop with intention. Before you head into a store, set your limits. Come equipped with a well thought out list and consider the following questions when you veer into dangerous territory and are tempted to buy off the list:

  1. Did I come into this store for this particular item?
  2. What will I use this item for?
  3. Why do I need it? (“Because I want it” isn’t a sufficient answer)
  4. Do I already have something like it?
  5. Where will it “live” in my house
  6. Am I 100% sure I need it?
  7. Is it returnable (make sure of the store policy) if I find I don’t really need it?
  8. Can I really afford this right now?

Creating a list and sticking to it is critical to organized shopping. And now, it’s easier than ever especially if you have a cell phone (everyone does, right?). Use the tools and apps available to you. They will help you tremendously in getting organized and staying on financial track.

Tip 3 (and most importantly): Be honest with yourself. Stay within your own personal means when shopping, especially for “non-necessities”. Don’t let the excitement of the moment encourage you to purchase something when you know, deep down inside, that it’s not the best decision.

I know, it’s hard to avoid that when you feel you deserve it for working hard, or something is really cute, or the kids would love it... but those justifications will lead you off track when shopping and, possibly, even closer to debt.

Number one: DON'T BLAME YOURSELF! We are a nation addicted to instant gratification. Daily we are encouraged to BUY BUY BUY! Unfortunately, this can lead to overspending and clutter in our homes. Back in the day people used to save their money to buy things they really wanted. Remember lay-a-way? Today with the overuse of credit cards, and the pressure of “keeping up with the Joneses” we just don’t practice that same discipline.

But, the good news is that you CAN make changes. YOU have the power! I now command you to take control of your actions! Use the tools that are available to you and you too will be on the road to successful, organized shopping. You will find you feel a lot better about yourself when you maintain control and within budget than you would if you were toting around a $1,400.00 Louis Vuitton purse you really couldn’t afford.

Remember; less is more.