Smart Kids’ Rooms that Grow with Time

(Family Features)—Costs for furnishing and decorating a child’s room can mount quickly, but with careful planning and a few smart purchases, the decisions you make for that nursery or toddler’s room can create a functional and clutter-free space that grows with your child well into the teen years.

From convertible furniture to neutral walls, you can establish a framework that evolves as your child’s interests change, significantly extending the life of those early investments.

Lorie Marrero, a certified professional organizer and author of “The Clutter Diet,” has partnered with the experts at ClosetMaid to offer these tips for creating a room that transitions with your youngster as childhood gives way to adolescence.

Invest wisely. Select furniture that will adapt to your child’s needs in the highest quality your budget allows. For example, if you’re starting with a nursery, choose a crib that converts to a toddler bed and even a twin or double bed years down the road. Choose a dresser that can double as a changing table during the early years, with pulls that a toddler or young child can easily manage when the time arrives.

Keep flexibility first. With each purchase, consider how the item will serve your child’s needs over a span of several years. This is true even in the closet, where space once allocated for tiny garments must eventually give way to larger and bulkier attire. One solution is a multi-functional closet organization system, such as ClosetMaid’s ShelfTrack, which can be altered as children grow and their needs change. For younger children, maximize closet space by utilizing three levels of wire shelving for clothing.  As they get older, it’s easy to reconfigure the design by adjusting shelving or adding accessories such as baskets and shoe racks.

Make the most of accessories. Establish a neutral palette that can change to reflect your child’s personality as they grow. Change up bedding and other decorative items. Dress up cubbies and storage spaces with pops of color using handy ClosetMaid fabric drawers, which can be easily removed to encourage to help out at cleaning time. On the walls, avoid the cost and work of repainting to match each new look by using temporary adornments, such as decals that peel away leaving no sticky residue.

“You’re doing yourself a big favor by establishing a solid foundation of furniture and storage in a child’s room from the start,” Marrero said. “Strategic purchases that last for years will let you focus on helping to make your child’s personality shine in the bedroom, starting with an adaptable storage system that helps set an early standard for keeping clutter under control.”

Source: www.ClosetMaid.com, www.StorganizationBlog.com

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Back-to-School House Rules That Work

Every new school year begins with a clean slate; the kids are a year older, new schedules are in place, and new house rules may need to be established in order for the household to run smoothly. But it isn’t always easy.
 

“Parents need to clarify their expectations,” points out family lifestyle consultant Carol Band. “And even then, you’ll need to have ways to reinforce the rules, especially when you are not at home.”

Online resource Parenting.com listed Band’s seven tips for establishing sensible house rules and making them work:

  • Keep the rules simple – “No friends over if I’m not home.” “Homework before TV.” These are concepts that kids can understand and that are easily enforced.
  • Post them on the fridge – Keep your list of rules to no more than five or six – and post them on the fridge so kids can’t claim they didn’t know, or they forgot.
  • Stay positive – Instead of saying, “No ice cream until after your homework,” say “When your homework is finished, you can have ice cream.”
  • Remove temptation – Keep computers in a central location and keep TVs out of the bedrooms.
  • Consider the child’s input – Plan ahead with your child what TV shows are important. If homework isn’t done soon enough, record the shows to be watched later.
  • Coordinate with other parents – Rules are easier to enforce when other parents are onboard. Work with the parents of your child’s friends so that kids understand there are some rules everyone should obey – such as, “No friends over when I’m not home,” or “No calls after 9 p.m.”
  • Try for positive reinforcement – Depending upon the child’s age, use weekly charts or small rewards when rules are followed with no argument. On the flip side, use predetermined consequences if a rule is deliberately broken.

 

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Q: Do I Have to Disclose a Parent’s Gift to The Lender?

A: Lenders prefer that you do. But relax, you are not penalized in any way for receiving parental help. An estimated one-third of all first-time buyers purchase homes with a loan or a money gift from parents.

Lenders also will approve gifts, with the proper documentation, from relatives, friends, an employer, church, municipality, or nonprofit organization – although stricter restrictions may apply for gifts from friends and relatives other than parents.

Expect the lender to ask you to present a gift letter stating that a repayment of the “gift” is not expected. The amount of the gift and the date it was given should be clearly stated in the letter, along with the donor’s name, address, telephone number and relationship to you.

The lender also can ask to see a few bank statements to ascertain if the money was recently placed into the account.

A gift may be more acceptable than an actual parental loan, particularly if the loan must be paid back immediately, which could contribute to an increase in your monthly debt – something a lender may frown on.

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