Merging Finances: Three Questions to Consider

Whether you’re moving in together or getting married, there aren’t many aspects of coupling up that can be as contentious as the merging—or not merging—of finances. There’s no right way to navigate these waters, but it can be tricky to figure out the right balance for your relationship. And while we can’t tell you exactly how to strike that balance, we can offer a list of things to think about while you’re working on it. Here are three key considerations to make when merging finances with your partner.

Ownership.

This can mean ownership of physical items, like real estate and cars, but it can also mean ownership of debt or bills, like college loans or monthly utilities. You might choose to combine all assets into joint bank accounts or keep separate accounts and divvy up the bills. No matter what you decide, it’s important to discuss it all up front so there are no unwelcome surprises, like an avoidable past-due payment.

Spending versus saving.

While you might like to save every extra penny for a rainy day, your partner may prefer to spend those pennies on travel or dining out. If you have opposite approaches to spending, you’ll need to learn to meet in the middle. It can take some time to get used to someone else’s financial habits. Give yourself—and your partner—grace during the adjustment period.

Financial goals.

While it’s important to set expectations and boundaries for day-to-day finances, don’t forget the big picture. Where do you see yourself financially in 10 years? Forty years? Financial planning isn’t just about retirement. Whether you would like to buy a property, remodel an existing one, start your own business, or just have more financial freedom, you’ll get farther in your goals if your partner is on the same page. Don’t be afraid to dream a little, as long as you are dreaming together.

There are no right answers when it comes to merging finances, but communication is key. Start your financial life together on the right foot by having the important conversations early. Your relationship will be better off for it.

Download on the App Store

Share this content

Download on the Play Store


How to Negotiate Your Social Life with Your Partner

Finding “the one” was hard enough. But finding him or her doesn’t mean that it’s all smooth sailing from here on out. Once you’ve decided to officially start a life together—things change. Maybe you were accustomed to going out with friends on the weekend and your SO is more of a homebody. That might end up being the perfect yin-yang situation. But more often, partners find that merging their social lives and social styles is a little more complicated, and takes a little more finesse. So how do you negotiate your social life to come up with the perfect marriage—pun intended—of social interaction that works for both of you? 

We’ve got a few tips, so keep reading.

You don’t.

OK, that sounds harsh. But it’s true. Relationships take work and compromise, and this isn’t just limited to the hard stuff, like finances and family planning and communication. It applies to every aspect of your partnership. 

What this means for your social life is that you have to be open to making sacrifices for your partner. Maybe you don’t spend every single weekend clubbing with your girlfriends. Or if you’re the homebody, maybe you make a commitment to regularly venture out of your comfort zone and do something that your extrovert partner enjoys. 

You don’t have to do something you hate all the time. But being receptive to the experiences your partner enjoys is a great way to keep a positive attitude and an open mind.

Be respectful of your partner’s friends and family.

Even if you don’t now, you and your significant other had separate lives at one time. Make sure to maintain space in the relationship to continue those connections. While you are the center of one another’s lives now, that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for anyone else. Give each other freedom to regularly connect with friends and family, even without the other, when warranted. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, after all.

Make new friends, together.

Making couple friends can be tough, but it’s completely doable. Find activities that you can both enjoy, like joining a hiking club, volunteering for a neighborhood association, or playing in a recreational sports league. These are all great places to meet other couples that are in the same phase of life as you. And if you’re into app-based networking, check out Couplr, the app that brings like-minded couples together to socialize.

Download on the App Store

Share this content

Download on the Play Store


Banish Pickiness: How to Raise Adventurous Eaters

“I’m not eating that.” It’s a familiar scene to any parent. Dinner is served, and your child’s expression changes. Picky children are as numerous as drive-thru windows, but is finicky eating an unavoidable part of childhood? It isn’t. And as a parent, there are some things you can do to banish pickiness and coax your child to try new things, and eventually, to enjoy a more varied diet. Here are a few options:

Provide opportunities to try new things

Busy families can easily fall into food ruts. Having a meal rotation is smart household management, but it’s important not to eat the same things all the time. After all, children can’t learn to enjoy new foods if they never get to try them. Commit to trying something new once a week. That could be a new fruit or vegetable, or a new side dish recipe. 

Offer options

If you’re trying to get your kids to eat more vegetables, give them choices. By providing options, you reverse the narrative: Rather than being forced to eat the only vegetable on the table by Mom, the child gets to choose: broccoli or carrots? This is a surprisingly effective way to reduce dinner-time stalemates. 

Respect their taste buds

Some kids might turn up their noses at anything that grows from the ground. And in those cases, it’s your job to show them that all vegetables are not the same. A child who despises kale might love carrots or beets. 

But once you’ve identified something that your child truly can’t stand, don’t push it. Why force zucchini when there are so many other delicious and nutritious vegetables out there? You likely have a few foods that you just don’t like, and your child is no different.

Involve your child in meal prep

Children love to help cook. Yes, it’s messier than doing it yourself, and it takes longer. But kids are funny that way—if they help cook something, they’re much more likely to eat it. 

Involve a young child in tasks like adding ingredients and mixing. Older children can chop vegetables and prepare a salad. If you’re concerned about knife safety, look for a kid-friendly serrated plastic knife. They actually chop very well, while keeping little fingers safe from harm.

Teaching your children to be less picky isn’t a quick process. It requires patience and consistency, but our tips can help ease the journey to banish pickiness. At the end of the road, you’ll find your reward: complaint-free mealtimes.

Download on the App Store

Share this content

Download on the Play Store


Cultivate Resilience: How to Raise a Hopeful Child

For many of us, the importance of hope in our lives has never been as evident as it is now. The events of the past year and a half have shown us how important hope is to cultivate resilience and keep us afloat in a world pummeled by the waves of instability. 

But what is hope, exactly?

According to a definition developed in the 1990s, hope consists of three things: a goal; at least one path to achieving that goal; and the belief that one is capable of following that path to success.

As a parent, you’d like your children to grow up hopeful, well-adjusted, and resilient. Here are three ways to help them do that.

Cultivate independence

To give your child hope in hard times, you have to teach them to find and take those pathways to success in times of trouble. This requires independence, which in turn requires practice being independent. So give your child that opportunity. Whenever possible, resist the urge to tell your child what to do in a difficult situation. Instead, provide guidance, and then let them figure it out. 

Foster self-confidence

A self-confident child is one who has faith in their self, their abilities, and their decisions. Again, this requires practice. To foster self-confidence, let your child make personal choices, such as choosing what clothing to wear. But you can also solicit their input in larger family decisions, such as where to go on vacation or how to cheer up an ailing relative. Demonstrating that you trust your child’s judgment will help them realize that they can trust it, too.

Provide a soft landing spot

Everyone messes up, and so will your child. Make sure they know that your love for them doesn’t waver. Provide a soft, but firm foundation for them to fall on when things are difficult. A child who grows up in a supportive, forgiving home is well positioned to be independent, hopeful and resilient.

Raising a hopeful child doesn’t happen by accident, but it is a byproduct of a healthy and supportive home life. By giving your child the agency to make mistakes, faith in their own decisions, and a safe place to fail, you will cultivate resilience and set them up to be a hopeful adult, ready to weather any trials the world may throw at them.

Download on the App Store

Share this content

Download on the Play Store


Post-Baby Connection: Stay Connected After the Baby Arrives

Whether you’re expecting, or your bundle of joy has already arrived, there’s no question that life changes in a big way when you become parents. It can be tempting to drop everything and focus 100 percent of your energy and attention on your little one. But it’s incredibly important that you don’t do this at the expense of your spouse. In fact, a 2015 study found that couples’ awareness of each other and the relationship was one of the decisive factors in marital happiness and post-baby connection.  

The changes that happen to you–

Having a baby is a shock to a relationship. It’s a wonderful shock, yes, and it’s all worth it. But it is a shock all the same. Consider the changes that come about:

  • Sleep. You’re getting less of it. Which will make you irritable. That will inevitably affect your relationship.
  • Those spur-of-the-moment trips? Your weekly bar night with friends? Your sports league? You may still be able to do those things sometimes, but life is going to get in the way a lot more often now. Your time is no longer your own.

The changes you can make–

It’s crucial that, as you adjust to the rhythms of parenthood, you also establish new rhythms of couplehood. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Practice self-care and give your partner time to do the same. Taking care of yourselves in whatever manner you choose will help you give more to your baby and to your relationship.
  2. Check in with your partner regularly. Assess your personal states of mind as well as the state of the relationship. If someone needs a break, make sure they get it. Proactively managing your stress levels will help ensure no one gets overwhelmed.
  3. Get out of the house. If you’ve got a trusted sitter, go out to dinner, or just grab a cup of takeaway coffee and go for a walk. If you don’t have help, make a note to find some, and take the babe with you for the time being. 

The new days of parenthood are sweet and fleeting. Enjoy them. But tend to your relationship too, and it will survive even the toughest obstacles and maintain your post-baby connection with your spouse.

Download on the App Store

Share this content

Download on the Play Store


Four Benefits of Homeschooling Your Child

The pandemic caused a global upheaval like the world has never known, and education was among the many areas of life that saw huge, game-changing shifts. The sudden switch to e-learning caused massive disruption in school districts that lacked the infrastructure to successfully navigate the change. And as a result, the number of families switching to homeschooling their children in the United States rose dramatically.

In fact, that number more than tripled in the fall of 2020, with more than 11% of families choosing to homeschool, up from about 3.3% pre-pandemic. 

For some, this was a triage option only during e-learning. But even as schools make plans to reopen, uncertainty abounds, and it’s likely that the surge in homeschooling will continue. The state of your school district may have you considering an option you’d previously discounted. If you are on the fence about homeschooling, read on to learn about the benefits of homeschooling. 

Academic success:

Homeschoolers do better academically than their public schooled peers: their test scores are higher, and 10% more of them graduate college. Learning at home allows the children to learn at their own pace with 1:1 attention. They aren’t bound by the needs of 24 other students in a classroom.

Emotional health:

With bullying made more ruthless by the rise of social media, this concern is more relevant than ever. The emotional scars from intense bullying can negatively affect a child for life. With homeschooling, children can grow into their confidence before experiencing any bullying that can happen in school.

Independent thinking:

A child raised away from environments of peer pressure is better equipped to think for their self. This level of independent thinking allows them to better stand up for their self. 

Family togetherness:

Homeschooled siblings spend a lot more time together. This helps them form a bond that just can’t be replicated if they’re in different classes in school all day. Families have freedom to take vacations or participate in activities whenever they want. The don’t have to squeeze them in on days off. Many homeschooling families choose to continue homeschooling just to preserve this type of freedom.

Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but maybe it’s for you. If these benefits have piqued your interest, give it a try. You might find you never want to go back.

Download on the App Store

Share this content

Download on the Play Store


Three Things to Discuss Before Having Kids

If you want to have children, chances are you have already discussed this with your spouse. That’s important. For many people, having kids—or not having kids—is a relationship deal-breaker. But when your first bundle of joy arrives, so do brand-new friction points that can stress your relationship. This is completely normal—having a child is a huge, life-changing event that requires adjustment. And it’s definitely not possible to discuss everything with your spouse before the baby is born. But if you can get on the same page with your partner in a few key places, you’ll enter parenthood with a better idea of what to expect, and be better equipped to weather the inevitable storms that will come. Prepare by agreeing on a few different topics before having kids. Three big ones are reviewed here. 

Medical philosophy

Depending on your mindset, the topic of vaccines for your baby can be polarizing. But whether you choose to vaccinate on schedule or go another route, you should definitely make sure you and your spouse are in agreement before your baby is born. In those early days, the shot schedule is fast and furious, so having a plan in place will help reduce friction and stress.

Co-sleeping

Some parents prefer to co-sleep with their children for years. This can be easier for mom if she’s nursing and provide a sense of closeness that the whole family enjoys. But it can also disrupt sleep and cause fathers to feel distant from their partners. Like many aspects of parenting, co-sleeping is something that you can’t truly form an opinion on until baby comes. But it’s still a good idea to have some idea of how you and your partner feel about it before you become parents.

Discipline

I know. You’re wondering why we’re talking about discipline for a newborn who can’t do anything independently except cry and poop. But that tiny tot won’t stay tiny forever. At some point you will find yourself having to set boundaries, and mete out the consequences when your child crosses them. Discuss appropriate forms of discipline with your spouse to get an idea of where you each stand.

You can’t plan for everything, and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to having kids. Above all, parenting teaches us to be flexible. But taking the time to discuss key aspects of child-rearing with your spouse before having kids is never a bad idea. It will help you find common ground, and you will likely become closer in the process.

Download on the App Store

Share this content

Download on the Play Store


Fixer Upper: 4 Easy Home Improvement Projects

Summer is upon us, pandemic restrictions have eased, and hopefully you will find yourself with a little free time on your hands. But summer isn’t just a great time to enjoy being outside. The more relaxed pace makes this season a good time to tackle small home improvement projects around the house that can have a big impact.

From improving an unsightly corner of your home to upgrading a room, here are four ideas for easy summer projects that will invigorate and inspire you to flex your DIY muscle.

Give your half bath a facelift.

Changing the whole look of your guest bathroom can be as easy as replacing the mirror with a statement piece and adding a rug or new hand towels. If you’re willing to put in a little more work, consider a new paint job. Half bathrooms are typically small enough that it doesn’t take long—or much paint—to repaint the whole thing. The small wall area also means that you can experiment with bolder colors than you’d choose for a larger room. Try a deep copper or a vivid plum—or create a statement wall with stencils or wallpaper.

Reorganize a closet.

Warning: This project is addictive. Once you’ve redone one closet, you may want to do all of them. Making over a closet can be as simple as purging items you no longer need and reorganizing the ones you choose to keep. Or you can remove closet doors, install new hardware or turn an unused storage space into a fun office or reading nook.

Create a mudroom.

The entry of a house or apartment can be the hardest area to keep organized. You can help bring order to this space—and the rest of your home—with some clever organizational wizardry. Try removable self-adhesive hooks on a wall near your front door, with a boot tray or small shoe rack underneath. Having a place to keep your stuff will motivate you to put it away, and make it easier to find when you are trying to get out the door in a hurry.

Organize a collection.

Whether we’re talking purses, baseball caps, scarves, or ties, it can be difficult to keep a collection of items organized. If space is at a premium, try displaying them as art in a hallway. Or utilize the underused space on the back of a bedroom door. You can store purses or belts in a repurposed wall file organizer, or install decorative hooks for scarves and hats. Best yet, collect it all for donation!

A home improvement project like one of these is the perfect summer pastime. Happy DIYing!

Download on the App Store

Share this content

Download on the Play Store


Keeping Connections Strong

Keeping Connections Strong: 5 Ways to Socialize from a Distance

Social distancing. It’s a phrase we’re all sick of, but it doesn’t seem like it will be going away anytime soon. Keeping connections strong has become difficult. You may be ready to resume your normal social life. After all, there’s been quite a bit of discussion about how social distancing impacts mental health, and how to balance the risks with your emotional well-being. But your friends or your family may be taking a more conservative approach. Or maybe you’re not ready to reenter society, and your friends are. Whatever your comfort level, we have a few ideas for socializing and staying connected while maintaining those six feet of distance.

Eat

Have a pod picnic with your friends or family. Members of the same household can sit in “pods” spaced six feet from other pods. Being outdoors and bringing your own food will help you and your loved ones feel safe, while still being able to spend time together and catch up.red meal

Exercise

Go hiking. Again, being outdoors lessens any risks you may be worried about, and hiking six feet apart is not difficult to maintain. Plus, being outside and getting some exercise will lift your mood.

Read

Start a book club. This is a great way to socialize with people whose comfort level differs from your own. People who want to meet in person can do so, and those who prefer to stay virtual can join via video chat. Need an idea for the first read? Check out this list.Keeping Connections Strong

Engage

Start a neighborhood activity. A Chicagoland mom came up with the idea of a shamrock hunt for kids back in March. The post went viral and inspired people in other communities, as well. If you don’t know your neighbors, this is a great way to meet them. Try starting a non-holiday version of the popular “You’ve been Boo’d” Halloween game where people leave mystery packages for neighbors, with a note to do the same for the next person.

Think

Run a trivia night. This is also an activity that can be done both in-person and virtually, depending on people’s comfort levels. Don’t know how to start a trivia night? Check out this guide.

We hope that you find an activity to suit your comfort level and allow you to stay connected to friends and loved ones. Stay safe while keeping connections strong!

Download on the App Store

Share this content

Download on the Play Store


Helping Others

Helping Others: 5 Tips for Staying Sane through the Process

It’s summer, the weather is beautiful, and you want to be hanging out with your loved ones. Only, the coronavirus is still out there.

It can be easy to get down in the dumps about social distancing. If we’re not careful, the strain can really take its toll. We’ve brought you ideas for socializing from a distance, taking care of yourself, and using creativity to bolster your relationships.

As the pandemic continues, here are a few more ideas to help you get through this time by helping others. Read on for our top 5 ideas for staying sane while giving back.

1 Write a letter

An actual handwritten letter put in an envelope with a stamp on it. Letters are rare these days. How excited would you be to find one in your mailbox? That’s what we thought. Write to a friend or family member and make their day.

Helping Others

2 Donate

You can donate your time or your resources. UChicagoMedicine has a list of places that can use donations including food, supplies, and even blood, which is needed now more than ever

3 Pick up trash.

There might not be as much of it lying around as during a normal summer, but beautifying your neighborhood’s parks and green spaces is a great way to give back while staying socially distant.

4 Check in on your friends and neighbors

Especially the elderly and those who live alone. You never know what someone might be going through. Your phone call or email could lift someone’s spirits on a difficult day.

5 Volunteer

Food banks and other community organizations always need volunteers. Social services around the country have been working overtime to provide food to families whose children depend on school meals for nutrition, and they are in need of volunteers. Spending a few hours helping others will help lift your spirits amid uncertainty.

Sometimes looking out for others is a form of self-care. We hope these tips have given you ideas for taking care of your community and yourself at the same time. Stay well and healthy.

Download on the App Store

Share this content

Download on the Play Store