Category Archives: Family

How to Shape Your Company Culture

Company culture has quickly become one of the most important predictors of a company’s future success. With this in mind we are always looking for ways in which we can take even better care of our team. We most definitely live by Richard Branson’s idea of:

“Train people well enough so they can leave,
treat them well enough so they don’t”

I truly believe in this statement, and look forward to seeing it come to fruition over the coming years at Royal Services! 

Source: How to Shape Your Company Culture

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Prioritizing tasks around the house

As a happily married father of 3 with a full time job, a small business, a home, 2 cars, and numerous bills to take care of, things are typically quite chaotic. I have a list of things that need to be done around the house, and as most people will understand, there is just no way of handling every single item on the to-do list.

The first thing that is done is deciding which of these truly need to be completed. There might be something that I would like to do, but it is not urgent and can be put on the backburner. There are other tasks that simply cannot be ignored. For example, winterizing the sprinklers in preparation for the harsh midwest temperatures. If this isn’t handled, then we will find ourselves with huge bills to repair our irrigation system in the spring, or we could just not repair it and let our grass and plants die when the summer heat hits. Either way, we will be paying for something.

The sprinklers are an item that I have no clue about, and to be honest, I have no interest sprinkler-1209900_960_720in figuring out what needs to be done. There is expensive equipment involved and there is a lot of risk that has to be mitigated. I do not have this mindset, or the time to mess around, so I trust a local landscaping company to take care of it for me.

Then there are other jobs that are easy to do, that need to be done, but just take up a lot of time that could be spent in other directions. If I have the option of paying a neighborhood middle-schooler $20 to collect all of my leaves, which allows me to spend an extra couple of hours with my family, it’s a no-brainer as far as I am concerned. Instead of washing my car by hand I would rather use that time to take a walk to the park with my family, and pay $8 at the local Green Lantern carwash for a great clean!

There are other tasks such as repairing the washing machine and tuning up my lawn-mower that can be achieved, and I have achieved, with the help of a YouTube video. calculator-385506_960_720Then there are those tasks that I just have to do such as paying bills, managing the family budget, and monitoring investment accounts that only I can do. I try to save these tasks for later in the day so that I don’t miss time with the boys, and it also bores me, so it helps me get to sleep quicker!

At the end of the day you have to decide what is important to you, and what your time is worth. I pay $8 for a car wash because I would rather spend that time playing with my two sons, or sitting on the patio drinking a glass of wine with my wife. I would rather pay someone to do the more complex jobs where I do not possess the required skillset nor am I prepared to take the risk associated with completing the task myself. However, I always mow our grass as I find it relaxing, it’s good exercise, and my two boys have toy lawnmowers and will be out in the yard with me throughout! Incorporating family into chores around the home is a great way to get things done, save money, and still spend time with loved ones!

What matters to you? What are some things that you will never complete yourself because you value your time too much, and what are some responsibilities that you have no interest in doing due to a lack of technical knowledge? What tasks do you actually enjoy and are you able to get your family involved in any of your regular chores?

Activities for children during the winter months

There are many things that we are required to do as the clocks go back, the nights draw in, and cooler temperatures move in. This varies across the country depending on the microclimate you reside within, but here in Kansas City we have to winterize irrigation systems, take plants inside to protect them for the winter months, and complete the painful task of leaf removal. Those of you with large, old oak trees will know exactly autumn-212733_960_720what I am talking about here…

Despite making all of these adjustments for “things” leading into the winter months, there is something much more important that we need to prioritize: what to do with our kids! This applies to children of all ages, as here in KC it’s typically too cold to go outside during the day with toddlers, and it’s already dark by the time older students get done with school activities. As I am a mother of 2 young boys, with a third child due next month, here are 10 activities that you can do to keep your young children active during the not so nice part of the year. Enjoy!

  1. Create space in your garage for them to kick a ball, and ride a bike around.
  2. Set up an obstacle course in your basement
  3. Visit a museum – there are so many small children’s museums, many that you may
    Wonderscope, Kansas City

    not even know about!  Search your area and check reviews for good ones that are close by.

  4. If you still have indoor malls close by, these are typically quiet during the day and provide your little ones with plenty of space to run around and get some energy out of their systems.
  5. Indoor games with modified equipment to prevent damage to valuable antiques and decorations – play with small wiffle balls, foam soccer balls, and this Hover ball is a great indoor toy as well!
  6. Take an inflatable pool and fill it with balls to turn it into your very own ball pit
  7. Trips to your local community center, swimming pool, YMCA etc.
  8. Buy a simple trampoline that will keep them entertained for hours at a time – just be prepared for some serious fistfights when multiple children want to bounce at the same time.
  9. Have them help you with cleaning and laundry where they will be on their feet for son-helping-dad-with-laundryan extended period of time. You can time them cleaning up from multiple rooms, turning a chore into a game!
  10. In Kansas City, we have a place called Rainbow Play Systems, which is a place that sells playground equipment but has their product line set up inside to “test out.”  For just a few dollars, your kids can have a playground/park experience in a temperature-controlled environment!  Look around your area to see if there are any places similar to this, I would highly recommend it!

These are all great for your children but be sure to plan some physical activity for yourself. Here are just a handful of ideas to get you started:

  1. Join a gym – this way you have no excuse for not working out when it is 3 degrees outside.
  2. Stationary bike/elliptical, or another piece of equipment that you can store in your garage or basement where it isn’t going to get in the way.
  3. Join a team where you will play weekly games – Indoor soccer and basketball are just two options that you could get involved with.
  4. Exercise during your lunch break if you are fortunate enough to have on-site fitness equipment, or a nearby gym.
  5. Use the fitness programs of your fitness tracker, activities from an app on your smartphone, or a fitness DVD from someone like Jillian Michaels to give you simple and easy to follow workouts during the short days of winter.

What are some ways that you keep your children and yourself entertained and physically active during the short days of winter? What works and what doesn’t work? Please share your thoughts so that we can all be prepared for this crazy time of year! Thanks for reading, and until next time, Expect The Exceptional in everything that you do.

Christmas shopping tips

We might still be approximately three months away, but it’s not too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts! My husband and I actually started this conversation this past weekend as we try to get on top of things before the mad rush from black Friday onwards. Here are some things that you can do to save time and money this holiday period:

(1) Set a budget – Many people suggest spending 1.5% of your gross annual income on dollar-660223_960_720.pngChristmas gifts, travel, and food. In 2014, the average gross family income was $65,751 according to Motley Fool, 1.5% of which is $986.27.  This seems like a lot of money to spend on the holiday, but when you think about the costs outside of gifts, such as food, entertainment, and travel, it makes sense.

https://www.today.com/parents/yes-we-spoil-our-kids-6-000-moms-come-clean-t75131

https://www.stewardship.com/articles/how-much-money-should-you-spend-on-your-kids-this-christmas

(2) Start early enough so that you have a list of gifts for each person. You might be able to track prices on apps like Cartwheel so that you can purchase these items when they are at their lowest price, or at the very least do your research before Black Friday so you can check for big sales on the items you are looking for.

(3) Remember that it’s the thought that counts. Some of the best gifts that I have ever received have been those that were homemade or were tied to an experience that I shared with my loved ones.

(4) Enjoy your time with your family!  Don’t spend so much time focused on gifts and shopping that you lose sight of what is really important, which is time with those whom you love.  christmas-family-time

(5) Are there things that you could make for your family that would save you money and would also mean more to them? Last year I made a range of cosmetic products for my family including an aftershave balm, foot cream, moisturizing cream, and lip balm made from natural ingredients and essential oils.  These were a big hit, and fun to make as well!

(7) Take advantage of layaway so that you pay ahead of time, rather than opening up crippling lines of credit that will continue to grow with interest charges.

(8) Make intelligent decisions about using Christmas bonuses. Don’t plan on spending a huge Christmas bonus which fails to materialize.

(9) Don’t buy gifts just for the sake of buying gifts.  This tends to happen when you wait until the last minute and are walking aimlessly around the store looking for something, anything that you could get for the last person on your list.  You end up buying them something that they don’t want or need, and holds no meaning.  This is disappointing for both of you!

(10) Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones – it might seem like you can handle the 2fb766eb1dc54a762648ee369217e318--fathers-day-ideas-fathers-day-craftshigh spending habits of your friends, but no one gets an award for spending the most money during the holiday season. Is it really worth it to blow through your budget only to spend the next several months trying to get your head above water and out of debt?  Remember what the holiday is truly about, and don’t get carried away by the hype.

Hopefully these tips are helpful, and as I stated above, it’s never too early to get started!  The sooner you are finished with your shopping, the sooner you get to spend quality time with family during the holiday season.

 

Tips for maintaining a clean home

Our third child is due in mid-November, and I have officially entered “nesting mode.” Image result for pregnant nesting With the other two, I was going strong up until right before they were born; I shampooed the carpets in the week before my second was born, and even attended a concert on the day of!  However, this one feels a little different and I am losing steam much more quickly.  Therefore, I felt it was important to start the cleaning early so I don’t have to worry about being unable to do it later on.  The problem with this is the chance of the house being destroyed between now and my due date, so I have to focus on maintenance, which is not my strong suit so I have come up with a few rules to follow to help me out.  If it isn’t yours either, maybe you will be able to use these tips as you are working to maintain a tidy home!

  1. Laundry – start a load every morning.  If you go to work and don’t want to leave wet clothes sitting in the wash all day, look for a delay start function on your washer and set it for about an hour before you get home.  Also, try to have a basket for each person, as well as towels so you can separate straight out of the dryer instead of creating an additional task for yourself.
  2. Batch toilets – I hate toilet brushes, and have gotten rid of all of ours.  Clorox wands have disposable brush heads with cleaner built inside.  This is a convenient and sanitary way to keep your toilets clean; however, it’s not as cost-effective as a reusable brush.  So to cut down on use, I try to clean all toilets at the same time and reuse the brush head a few times to get more out of each one.  Even if you use brushes, cleaning all toilets at the same time is a great way to stay on track and ensure that toilets are all clean.
  3. Have a drawer for all paperwork and bills so that things don’t get lost – having one specific drawer for these items keeps things organized and minimizes the chance that something will get lost or misplaced.
  4. Straighten up before bed – when I come down in the morning to a tidy house, I am much more likely to keep it that way throughout the day.  On the other hand, if I come down to a mess, it is likely to get worse before better.  This is certainly a mental thing on my part, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who experiences it!
  5. Break up tasks – instead of lying in bed thinking “tomorrow, I’m cleaning the whole house!” and then feeling like a failure the next night when you haven’t done much Broom, Ragpicker, Mop, Picker, Toilet, Cleaningat all, try breaking up your tasks each day.  For my “baby cleaning,” I set a seven day schedule for myself that covered all parts of my house, but was broken up enough that I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  I found a few templates online, but in the end decided to come up with my own schedule, specific to my home and my preferences.  This was for a deep clean, but for maintenance purposes you can use the same list; you will just have less to do after the first time!
  6. Go digital with as many things as you possibly can – this is less about cleaning and more about being prepared, but setting things up online is a great way to stay on top of things and make sure you don’t get behind.  This includes utilizing auto-payments whenever you can, as well as automatic shipping on household items, such as toilet paper, diapers, laundry detergent, etc. to make sure you don’t run out.
  7. Remotes for lights – this saves both time and money and is something that we have found extremely useful.  I prefer lamps to overhead lighting, so I have a lot aroundLight, Lamp, Bedside Lamp, Illumination, Lampshade the house in various places.  We had some remotes for our Christmas lights and this year instead of packing them away, we have continued using them for the lights in our house.  When the sun goes down, I simply have to press a few buttons to turn the lights on, and at the end of the night do the same to turn them off.  Rather than walking around flipping a ton of switches multiple times a day, this simple tool saves so much time and also prevents leaving lamps on, leading to a spike in the electric bill.

Hopefully these tips help you as much as they have helped me!  Do you have anything else you like to do that I have forgotten?  Please put it in the comments below, and as usual, Expect the Exceptional in everything you do!

Ways to become WELLthier

My current city of Overland Park, Kansas, was recently named in the top America’s WELLthiest cities.

This list was compiled by looking at data from across a variety of aspects including health and fitness businesses and amenities, healthy eating establishments, and activities around town that promote healthy living.  The article also included reviews of these places and their popularity among residents.  Overland Park was recognized namely because of their expansive arboretum and botanical gardens, availability of fresh produce at the farmer’s market, as well as the outdoor  walking and educational activities available at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead.

Even if your city wasn’t recognized on this list, there are so many ways you can ensure a “wellthy” lifestyle on your own.  Here are a few ideas to get you started!

(1) Walk daily: walking trails are everywhere.  Even if there isn’t one connected to your pexels-photo-504881neighborhood, it’s nice to drive to new places and explore the area.  This is especially true if you live near a busy road, as most trails are a safe place to take your kids and let them run!

(2) Visit your local farmer’s market: you wouldn’t believe the great deals you can get on produce at a farmer’s market vs. a grocery store.  Not to mention the other fun things they have, like honey and jam and beautiful flower bouquets!

(3) Participate in physical activities: going for a run or to the gym may not be your cup of tea, but maybe you love to play basketball when you get the chance.  This is a great way to get exercise and have fun at the same time, so find a league and join up!

(4) Work-life balance: it’s important to take a break every now and again to clear your mind and enjoy time with family.  Be sure you have a healthy balance between work and home life so you can get the most out of every day!

(5) Annual medical check ups: this is a great way to make sure your health is on track.  doctor-medical-medicine-health-42273Don’t forget about the dentist, dermatologist and optometrist when you are making your appointments!

(6) Stay hydrated: when I notice my energy levels are low, I can usually pinpoint the cause as dehydration.  If constantly drinking water feels like a chore to you, try adding some flavor or even eating watermelon!  This is a great way to stay hydrated and get some vitamins as well.

(7) Sun screen: don’t leave home without it.  We all know the risks associated with sun exposure, but many of us will only apply if we are spending the day at the pool or beach.  Even if you are just out running errands, it’s a good idea to lather up before you go as you will be in the sun more than you think!

(8) Get a good nights sleep – this means a good night’s sleep, not lying in bed for several out of bedhours looking at your phone.  The light on your phone can cause insomnia, so turn the blue light filter on if you do have a habit of playing games or browsing Facebook before you sleep.

(9) Sign up for an event so that you have something to work towards – signing up for a 5k or Tough Mudder “forces” you to create a fitness regime so that the day of the event isn’t a complete disaster!

(10) Family time – spend time with friends and loved ones. Workout together when possible so that everyone is involved and something that typically isn’t enjoyable becomes something that the whole family looks forward to!

Tricks when traveling with children

After our recent overseas trip to visit family in England, I once again realized how incredibly difficult it is to travel with children.  What is already an exhausting journey is multiplied 10-fold when you are joined by young travel-mates.  I thought I was prepared for this adventure, but there were some things I didn’t think of that I wanted to pass along in the hopes that it will help someone else!  Here are a few tips that I have either tried, or wish I would have tried!

(1) Take snacks with you – this is obvious, but I would recommend finding some snacks that you are allowed to take on board that actually provide some sustenance to your kids.  I packed a ton of suckers, but thankfully my mom packed a travel bag for the boys with yogurt raisins and a surprising favorite, beef jerky.  Snacks were at times the only thing that would calm them down and I felt terrible constantly feeding them pointless sugars.

(2) Give them their own suitcase or bag to be responsible for – we tried to limit our carry-Resized_20170305_084239on luggage this time around, but we did have my son’s small suitcase on wheels that held our extra clothes.  He was in charge of pulling this through the airport, and not only was it adorable but it gave him something to do that distracted him from wanting to be held.

(3) Pack a car seat – If you need a car seat at your destination, take yours with you!  The first year we traveled with our oldest, we requested that the taxis taking us to and from the airport have a car seat.  The ones they provided were very outdated and the cab drivers had no idea how to install them.  Needless to say, I was very nervous while in the car and we decided never to do that again!

(4) Pack extra clothes – there has been more than one occasion where our luggage was delayed or “misplaced” and we were left scrambling for a few days, washing the same clothes over and over, as well as purchasing new clothes to hold us over.  I now make sure one of our carry-on bags includes extra outfits for everyone, just in case.  Also, when you have children, there is always the chance the clothes they are wearing will be destroyed and it’s nice to have extras if you need them!

(5) Remember sanitizing wipes – I recently read that your tray is the dirtiest part of the airplane.  Which is gross, as this is where your food goes!  I brought along wipes and made sure to clean off the trays as soon as we sat down.

(6) Pack refillable cups – after our apple juice was sent flying, I decided it was time to pull out the water bottles I had packed and use those for the remainder of the flight.  I asked the flight attendants to fill those during drink service and no longer had to stress about spilling.

(7) Try to stay calm – the first time I flew with a young child, I was so worried about what everyone else was thinking.  If he made the slightest noise, I would try to quiet him downbaby-215303_960_720 and it just made me so much more stressed than I needed to be.  This time, I just focused on my boys and their well-being and it made for a much happier flight.  When my 21-month old was crying, I focused on comforting him and remembered that he was exhausted, instead of worrying about what the people around me were thinking.  That being said, you shouldn’t let your child run wild and do things that are purposely disturbing others, like kicking seats or throwing food.

(8) Look for free seats – when flying with a lap child, an extra seat is like gold.  The first time we flew with our oldest, the man checking us into the flight let us know that he switched our row so we could have an extra seat for the baby.  Laying him down in the seat next to me while he slept almost brought tears to my eyes, as it was so difficult for him to sleep in my lap.  This time, we kept our eyes peeled and before the flight had even taken off, my husband had checked with the flight attendant and found a free row of seats for half of the family to sit in.  The flight was so much more enjoyable for everyone with a little extra breathing room.

Hopefully these tips will help make your life more convenient as you travel to your next destination.  If you have any more ideas, please include them in the comments below!