Organ donation: gift of a second chance at life

Organ Donation, Organ donor, organ transplantation, While organ transplantation is a remarkable story in the history of medicine, the need for organs is vastly greater than the number available for transplantation.

Any way you figure it, the math doesn’t add up to a promising picture. In 2012, there were more than 115,000 people in the U.S. awaiting an organ transplant – enough to overflow the country’s largest football stadium. Each year, more than 28,000 Americans receive a donated organ, but sadly, more than 6,500 people die each year waiting for an organ.

While many are on the waiting list for years, their number increases at the rate of more than 50,000 people a year, nearly one new person every 10 minutes. Day after day the list and the problem grow. It is, however, a problem with a solution – one that depends a lot on education and selflessness.

Professional snowboarder Chris Klug knows first-hand what the waiting game is like. After being diagnosed with PSC (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis), a rare degenerative bile duct condition, Klug learned that he needed a liver transplant. He spent several years on the waiting list, eagerly anticipating the call that a donor organ had become available.

After a successful surgery and aggressive rehabilitation regimen, Klug won the bronze medal in snowboarding in front of the home crowd in Salt Lake City – just a year and a half after his transplant.

-”I’m so blessed to be here today,” Klug says. “I will forever be grateful for my second chance. Every day I thank God and I thank my donor and his family for the decision to donate.”

A new survey released by Astellas Pharma US, Inc. shows that while 60 percent of people are familiar with their state’s organ donor registry and 57 percent would be willing to donate their organs after they pass away, only 43 percent are actually registered as organ donors and 48 percent don’t know how to register.

“We are very encouraged by the number of Americans who view organ donation positively and are willing to donate,” says David Fleming, president and CEO of Donate Life America. “However, knowing the large number of people awaiting a transplant, we are committed to continuing to educate all Americans on the importance of registering in their state, and ensuring they know.”

Registering to become a donor is a simple process that can be completed online or through many local departments of motor vehicles. Transplantation gives hope to thousands of people with organ failure and provides many others with active and renewed lives. Register today to become an organ donor at donatelife.net/register-now.


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How to turn your backyard into the best vacation destination

Vacation at home, Backyard, Backyard vacation, Home Vacation, HomeIt’s a widely known “secret” that family vacations aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. Traveling can be a costly hassle with too many negatives that overshadow the fun. That’s why a growing number of Americans are rediscovering the fun that can be had at home, and taking steps to make their backyards as inviting and enjoyable as any far-off vacation destination.

Summer vacation travel costs the average American family about $1,180 per person, according to an American Express survey. Imagine if a family of four invested the cost of this summer’s vacation into upgrading their backyard with the addition of a swimming pool or hot tub. They could create an oasis of family fun that they’ll enjoy for years, not just for a week in the summer.

Saving money and avoiding travel hassles are far from the only benefits of spending more time at home. Quality time together helps families bond, and can even improve physical and mental wellbeing. Purchasing a pool or hot tub is the kind of investment that will provide your family backyard enjoyment for years to come.

There’s a reason why virtually every great hotel in a great location has a pool and hot tub: people love recreation and relaxation. When it comes to creating a resort-like vacation experience in your backyard, nothing fits the bill better than a swimming pool or hot tub.

A swimming pool is one home improvement that pays for itself in multiple ways, from increasing your home value and reducing travel costs to improving relationships with loved ones. The majority of pool owners (75 percent) say their swimming pool turns the backyard into an everyday vacation spot, according to research by the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. Four out of five pool owners say it’s a great way to entertain guests, and nearly half say it’s the perfect place to connect with family and guests.

Hot tub owners feel the same way. Among owners, 57 percent consider the backyard their sanctuary and believe their hot tub promotes entertaining and fosters quality time with loved ones. What’s more, 77 percent of owners say time in their hot tub is one of the few things that truly relieves stress.

Though the economy continues to be a factor for improvement-minded homeowners, swimming pools and hot tubs are a natural fit for those opting to stay put and improve their current homes. And while adding an installation can be a serious investment, a family of four that would normally spend the average amount of $4,750 per summer on vacation travel could conceivably pay for a pool or hot tub by foregoing those travel costs for a few years. If you’re considering adding a pool or hot tub to your outdoor living space, rely on APSP’s online member locator to find an APSP Certified Professional in your area.

Demand for outdoor living spaces continues, with the American Society of Landscape Architects listing pools and hot tubs as hot trends for 2013. Refining outdoor living spaces with improvements such as built-in cooking facilities, composite or wooden decks, patios and natural landscaping can further enhance the usability and appeal of a swimming pool or hot tub.


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Five tips for lighter, brighter summer eating

Food & Fun, Summer food, Eating light, summer eatingSimple, fresh and delicious – that’s summertime eating at its best. Less time in the kitchen means more time to enjoy the bright delicious flavors of just-picked berries, peaches, greens and other vegetables.

“It makes sense to eat lighter in the summer,” says Chef William Tillinghast, culinary academic director at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. “Hot weather slows down the digestion and heavy foods are harder to digest.”

Chef Tillinghast got together with Chef Jeffrey Floyd, culinary academic director at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, to offer these five tips for enjoying summer’s gastronomic delights.

* Buy local and seasonal – or grow it yourself

Summer brings locally grown specialties – berries of all types, melons, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet onions and more. Visit farmers’ markets and ask what’s in season. Consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program to explore eating seasonally. And nothing tastes better than tomatoes from your own garden.

* Process produce as little as possible

The fresher the produce, the less preparation needed. “The longer the time between preparation and consumption, the more flavor is lost,” says Chef Tillinghast. Try cutting up peaches and a honeydew melon, add fresh blueberries and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Serve immediately for an instant refreshing dessert.

Cook veggies quickly by stir frying. Cut vegetables small. Cook briefly with olive oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat (or put the wok on your grill). Add a little coarse salt and freshly ground pepper – it’s the perfect side dish for a simple roast chicken, grilled steak or swordfish.

* Keep flavors simple

Allow the flavor of fresh summer produce to shine. Chef Floyd loves this summer salad, adapted from “American Regional Cuisine,” by The Art Institutes system of schools. Cut zucchini into matchstick strips. Combine with wedges of ripe tomato, finely sliced fresh basil, thin slices of sweet or green onion. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve on a bed of lettuce, spinach or other greens. Add feta or bleu cheese crumbles if you like.

* Use that grill

Grill eggplant, zucchini, onions and peppers. Brush with olive or walnut oil if you like. Put veggies directly on the grill, use a griddle or wrap in a single layer in foil. Grilled peach halves and pineapple rings are also delicious.

* Soup is for summer, too

“Cold soups like gazpacho, vichyssoise, avocado and cucumber, or various fruits, are refreshing,” says Chef Tillinghast. For a delicious cold soup, peel and chop pears and apricots (or hull and cut up strawberries). Add a sprinkling of sugar and perhaps a little cinnamon or cardamom. Mash lightly with a fork and add sour cream or yogurt, half and half or milk – even champagne.

Beat the heat with lighter, simpler meals – you’ll feel better and have more time for summertime fun.

For more information about The Art Institutes schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu.


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Why a normal Pap test may not mean you are cancer-free

Orlando Home health, Orlando Home, Health, PapMany women know that getting a Pap test regularly from their health care provider is a good way to check for signs of cervical cancer, the second most common cancer in women worldwide. What they might not know is that a “normal” Pap result does not necessarily mean they are cancer-free.

A recent study involving more than 800 patients in a large health care plan found that about one in three women with invasive cervical cancer actually had normal Pap test results. Other research suggests that a single Pap test can miss early signs of cervical cancer up to half the time.

While the Pap test is valuable, it does not always detect cancer cells early, when treatment is easiest and most effective. By the time a routine Pap test detects abnormal cell changes in the cervix, cervical pre-cancer may already be occurring.

As a result, the American Cancer Society and several medical groups now recommend that women between the ages of 30 and 65 be tested for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) – the main cause of cervical cancer – along with their Pap test.

Of the more than 100 types of HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection, most are harmless and are cleared naturally by a person’s immune system. In fact, 70 to 90 percent of sexually active individuals will have some type of HPV at some point in their life. But a few types, known as high-risk HPV, can develop into cancer, sometimes decades after a person has been infected.

The two highest-risk types, HPV 16 and HPV 18, are responsible for two-thirds of all cervical cancer cases. So, if a woman does test positive for HPV, it’s important for her and her doctor to know which HPV type she has, to more fully understand her risk.

Advances in laboratory medicine now allow health care providers to screen women specifically for high-risk HPV types. By ordering a high-risk HPV test along with a Pap test, a doctor can find out more about a woman’s risk for cervical cancer. One test in particular, called the cobas HPV Test, gives health care providers individual results for HPV 16 and HPV 18, along with a grouped result for other high-risk HPV types, all in one test. A Pap and an HPV test can be done using the same sample, so all the information is available from just one office visit.

Coupling an HPV test with a Pap (co-testing) provides so much more valuable information about a woman’s risk for cervical cancer that several medical groups now say that women ages 30 to 65 only need to be co-tested every five years if neither test shows new abnormalities.

Although advances in medicine like HPV testing are enabling doctors to provide better care with less frequent testing, many women are still in the habit of having an annual Pap test, and it may be difficult to get used to the change. But there are still many reasons for women to continue their yearly OB/GYN or family physician wellness visits. Perhaps the most important one is that the goal of an annual exam has always been to do a comprehensive review of a woman’s health.

Even without the need for an annual Pap test, yearly well-woman visits are as important as ever for ovarian, uterine, breast, cardiovascular and sexual health, as well as for colon cancer screening, osteoporosis prevention and immunizations.

For women who are concerned about the cost of a yearly doctor visit, it may be helpful to know that annual well-woman visits and certain preventive care services are required to be covered by many insurance providers without a co-pay or deductible under the Affordable Care Act. For non-grandfathered plans, this applies to any new plan year that begins after August 1, 2012. This coverage requirement extends to HPV testing for women ages 30 to 65 as well.

National Women’s Health Week is May 12 to 18, the perfect reminder for women to schedule their annual exam if they haven’t done so yet. More information about Pap and HPV co-testing and knowing a woman’s risk for cervical cancer is available at www.facebook.com/PreventCervicalCancer.


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Go nuts and celebrate your health with a handful

Home Inspections, Home Inspector, Orlando Real Estate, Orlando Foreclosure Good things really do come in small packages. And when it comes to your health, pistachios pack a powerful punch: They help you manage your weight, may help reduce blood pressure and a study published in the “International Journal of Impotence Research” shows they may even help with erectile function. Here are three big reasons why you should unshell and celebrate your health with a handful.

The power of pistachios

Pistachios are a great snack chock-full of vitamins and nutrients including antioxidants, beta carotene, fiber, glutamine, potassium, phytosterols, zeaxanthin and B6. “You really can’t go wrong with pistachios,” says director of sports nutrition at the University of Southern California, Becci Twombley. “With six grams of protein in every 160-calorie serving, pistachios are a protein front-runner compared to 160 calories of other common snacks.” In addition, pistachios have more nuts per serving (49) than any other tree nut.

Performance food for athletes

Whether you’re an elite athlete in training or a casual fitness buff, what you eat will affect your performance.

“As an athlete, your body needs the right carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and fluids,” says Twombley. Pistachios are a great pre- and post-workout snack because they contain a good source of lean protein, the right type of fat and electrolytes such as potassium.

Green goodness

Their taste is unbeatable. They can be enjoyed right out of the bag, or to jazz them up, you can season them right in the shell, like these Saffron and Vanilla Pistachios by Chef Grant MacPherson.

Saffron and Vanilla Pistachios

Ingredients:

1 pound American pistachios, in-shell

1.5 ounces Spanish saffron, steeped in cold water

2 vanilla beans, scraped

2 tablespoons canola oil

Sea salt to taste-

Directions:

Warm canola oil in roasting pan or wok on your stove top, add pistachios and lightly toast. Add saffron, with some liquid to coat the pistachios. Add the vanilla bean scrapings and stir to incorporate; season with sea salt to taste. Remove from heat and serve warm in the dish of your choice.

“Pistachios also appeal to those with a sweet tooth,” says Judy Hirigoyen, director of Global Marketing at American Pistachio Growers. “Whether it’s ice cream, cake or tarts, pistachio-inspired desserts will win over anyone you prepare them for.”

In addition to flavoring for premium snacking, American Pistachio Growers have a wealth of recipes developed by renowned chefs. Visit www.americanpistachios.org to see recipes like Pistachio Dusted Roast Salmon with a Light Honey Glaze by Chef Jesse Brune.

For more information about the health benefits of pistachios and for recipes, visit www.AmericanPistachios.org. American Pistachio Growers is a volunteer trade organization representing members who are pistachio growers, processors and industry partners in California, Arizona and New Mexico.


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Think outside the fuse box: Unique energy-saving home improvements

Orlando Home Inspections, Orlando Home, Home Inspections, You’ve replaced your home’s 20-year-old windows with new, Energy Star-rated models, upgraded to electricity-sipping appliances and there’s not a single incandescent light bulb to be found anywhere in your house. You may be wondering what more you can do to further reduce your home energy bills.

When you’ve covered the basic and obvious ways to trim energy use at home, it’s time to start thinking outside the fuse box. Here are three unique home improvements that can help make your house even more energy-efficient.

1. Put a stake through the heart of vampire power – Even when they’re turned off, electrical devices draw power as long as they’re plugged in. “Vampire power” or “standby power” refers to the electricity wasted in this manner. In developed countries, standby power probably accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential energy use, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Fortunately, vampire power is a relatively easy problem to solve. In many cases, simply unplug the power cord – a great solution for your cellphone charger or the coffee pot. When an appliance gets frequent use, however, constantly unplugging and replugging it may not be convenient. In those situations, a simple home improvement may be in order.

Connect outlets to wall switches that make it easy to turn the device off or on at the outlet. Or, you can plug appliances into a device that, in turn, plugs into the outlet and stops electricity leakage.

2. Add motorized shutters to windows – People add motorized rolling shutters to their homes for a variety of reasons, from enhancing privacy and security by making it harder for burglars to break in through windows, to protection against intense sunshine and hurricane winds. But did you know shutters can also boost your home’s energy efficiency?

In winter, motorized shades or rolling shutters maximize insulation of windows – a significant point of heat loss in many homes. In summer, they can reduce heat gain, help maintain a more comfortable indoor temperature and protect furnishings from damaging UV rays. Automating motorized shutters with a sun sensor, like those available from Somfy Systems, allows you to further improve energy efficiency by raising or lowering shutters throughout the day to fine-tune heat retention.

And, for the truly eco-minded homeowner, Somfy’s new solar powered AutoSun uses solar energy to power the shutter motor – so saving energy doesn’t require you to use electricity. Learn more at www.somfysystems.com.

3. Open the door to energy savings – Your home’s front door is the first impression visitors get when they arrive on your doorstep, but it’s also a potential source of heat and energy loss. Replacing an old, inefficient or poorly insulated door with an Energy Star-qualified door can pay off with significant heat retention and energy savings. -

When looking for a replacement door, insulated doors made of fiberglass or steel, filled with an insulating core such as polyurethane foam, are more energy-efficient than traditional wooden doors. Doors should also fit well into the doorframe, and use weather stripping to block drafts.

Doors wear out, lose efficiency and need to be replaced, according to the Residential Energy Services Network. Replace your old front door with an Energy Star-qualified one, and you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30 percent of the cost of the door, according to EnergyStar.gov.

Improving your home’s energy efficiency is the right thing to do – for both the environment and your wallet. With a bit of creativity and the right home improvements, it’s possible to maximize your home’s energy efficiency.


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Still texting while driving? Quitting might be easier than you think

Orlando Real Estate, Orlando Home, Home InspectionsMost Americans know texting and driving is dangerous but it continues to be a problem, especially for young drivers. While 97 percent of teens agree that texting and driving is dangerous, 43 percent still admitted to continuing to do it, according to a recent survey.

The 2012 AT&T survey of teen drivers also found 75 percent of teens say texting while driving is common among their friends and the majority of respondents said they have texted when stopped at a red light and often glance at their phones while driving. While teens might be the worst offenders when it comes to texting and driving, plenty of adults are guilty too. As the evidence continues to mount concerning the dangers of texting while driving, 39 states have made it illegal. Whether it’s legal or not in your state, here are three good reasons to quit once and for all:

* Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be in an accident, according to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute research.

* Texting while driving is distracted driving. Distracted driving is a factor in 15 to 25 percent of all crashes, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

* Each day, an average of more than 15 people are killed in crashes that result from distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How to stop texting while driving

To help people break the perilous habit of texting and driving, technology companies are coming up with unique and practical solutions for drivers. For instance, Xperia SmartTags by Sony give you the ability to turn off all distractions from your smartphone with just a simple touch. These small tags can be put on a dashboard or a set of car keys and allow you to change your phone’s settings for driving by simply touching your NFC-enabled smartphone to the tag.

Smartphone applications can make this process even easier. When paired with AT&T’s free Drive Mode app, you can automatically disable your phone’s texting and calling capability. The app can also be programmed to include an automatic message that’s sent to anyone who texts you while you’re behind the wheel, letting that person know that you’ll respond when you are finished driving. You can program this app to run when you tap your phone to your SmartTag, while also setting your phone up to automatically run GPS programs and engage your car’s Bluetooth system for both safety and convenience.

While messages from your friends and family are important, nothing should take precedence over safely getting yourself and your passengers to your destination. To help make your driving experience safer, outfit your car with tools such as SmartTags, which you can learn more about at www.sonymobile.com, and don’t forget to take the pledge to never text and drive again at www.itcanwait.com.


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Roof maintenance tips for every season

Orlando Home, Orlando Real Estate, Roof Maintenance, Orlando Home Inspections From intense heat to extreme snow, your roof protects your house from the elements all year long. When is the last time you checked to make sure your roof was in good shape? No matter what the seasons are like in your area, now is the time to begin preparation for extreme weather by giving your roof a second look.-

“Regardless of your area’s climate, it is imperative that your roof stays up-to-date so that it can protect your home efficiently,” says Aaron Phillips, corporate director of technical systems for TAMKO Building Products, Inc.

Time-consuming roof projects can be a nuisance and a stress to homeowners. But, by staying on top of repairs, a roof will stay well maintained.

Spring

Spring brings warmer temperatures, green grass and flowers, but it also brings spring rain. While spring rain may be great for your garden, it can severely damage your home if your roof is out of shape.-

Have your roof professionally inspected for any problems winter storms may have caused. Finding and fixing leaks is important so that the rainwater does not drip into your attic. Fixing leaks early will help you avoid problems later.-

Water from spring rain needs to have access to easy drainage so it does not saturate your roof. Check your gutters for leaks and clean out leaves and debris that winter has left behind.

Summer

When the temperatures start to rise, it is important to assure that your roof can breathe. The area underneath your roof needs access to cooler air so that the warm, expanding air can escape. Allowing the warm air to escape can help the home maintain a comfortable temperature without overworking your air conditioning unit. When you consider how hot the temperature can get inside your attic, it is easy to see why proper ventilation is so important.-

It is important to inspect your ventilation system, both inside and out. Ensure that nothing could block the escape of air, such as insulation or debris, and look for signs of wear that indicate you need to update your ventilation system. Under-ventilated attic space can lead to higher cooling costs and accelerate the aging of shingles.

TAMKO Building Products, Inc. carries a wide variety of ventilation products that help reinforce the beauty of a home and provide ventilation to your attic. The TAMKO Solar Attic Vent is a great product for all areas, including those that have unpredictable climates. The optional cold-weather thermostat automatically disengages the fan when the temperature falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. To learn more about TAMKO products, visit www.TAMKO.com.

Fall

As the summer heat starts to break and the kids go back to school, fall provides the perfect time to ensure that your home is protected for winter. If your roofing system is not up to standard, it may be time for new shingles. Shingles provide great protection for your home, but like everything else, reinforcing them with back-up makes them stronger.-

Before having your new shingles installed, consider reinforcing your roof with an extra layer of protection. TAMKO carries a line of underlayments which help give your roof an extra layer of protection against rain and snow.-

Your roof makes up around 50 percent of your home’s exterior. Something that is such a large part of your home and provides protection to your family and your belongings should be well maintained. By spreading your roof checkups throughout the seasons, you can ensure that your roof is always in the best shape possible. A well-kept roof means a happy house.


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Make your house look like a ‘million dollar listing’ for less

Orlando Home Inspections, Orlando, Floors, Orlando Real EstateA new report reveals houses are selling faster and for more money, yet another indicator of a rebounding housing market. According to the National Association of Realtors, full-year sales of previously owned homes increased by 9 percent in 2012 over the previous year. Plus, home prices jumped up 12.3 percent, the biggest percentage gain since January 2005. -

This will challenge sellers to sharpen their competitive edge as more homeowners, encouraged by promising indicators, put their house on the market. Josh Altman, one of the top 10 realtors in the country and star of Bravo’s hit TV show “Million Dollar Listing: L.A.,” shares three strategies for making houses more desirable to buyers.

Install hardwood floors

“Installing hardwood floors is one of the smartest investments a seller can make,” said Altman. “Hardwood flooring is easy to install, never goes out of style and is extremely desirable to homebuyers.”

Countless hardwood flooring options, including popular bamboo varieties, allow homeowners to easily select a floor that looks great and fits within their budget. Homeowners can even differentiate their floors – and houses – by transferring the flooring’s warranty to the new owner. For example, Lumber Liquidators’ Bellawood brand of prefinished hardwood flooring offers a certified 100-year transferable warranty.

Laminate or vinyl flooring is another option for getting a fresh, updated look. Laminate enables homeowners to get the look of hardwood for less, and there are even options for DIY novices, such as flooring that easily clicks together without glue or nails.

Increase the curb appeal

First impressions matter, and home buying is no different. “Making a few updates to a house’s exterior goes a long way in making houses more inviting and valuable,” said Altman.

Homeowners can put their green thumbs to work by weeding their garden, trimming plants and branches and adding color by planting vibrant flowers in containers or planters. Simple repairs and updates offer a lot of bang for your home improvement buck, whether it’s getting a new front door, updating house numbers or painting the trim, downspouts and gutters.

Update the kitchen

Remodeling a kitchen can bring a home to the top market value, and you don’t have to tear down walls or break the bank to do it. “No matter what budget a homeowner has, there are simple ways to add that wow factor to a kitchen,” said Altman.

Unique, stylish light fixtures can create a warm and inviting environment, while new appliances add visual interest and help increase the value of a home. Even subtle touches like updating cabinet hardware or installing a tile backsplash behind a stove can give a kitchen the facelift it needs.


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Play day: How time-pressed families can find more time for fun

Family Fun, Family, Orlando Family, Orlando Home Inspections ┬áIt waits for no one, flies by and can’t be bottled, but it’s the one thing everyone would like more of: time. In today’s busy, hectic society it’s harder for families to find time together for fun, yet spending quality time together is key to the emotional health of the family unit and of individual family members.

The average American spends nearly eight hours a weekday working and more than two hours on housework, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey. Add in the hours needed for sleeping and eating, and finding time for fun can take a backseat to other considerations.

Here are some ideas for how you and your family can take back time from your busy day and spend it with each other:

* Improve chore efficiencies – Housework is a necessity, but you don’t have to allow it to take up a lot of time. Working as a team and sharing duties is one way to ensure cleaning gets done quickly. Another smart time-saving technique is to streamline housework with the right tools. For example, the BISSELL CleanView Vacuum with OnePass Technology helps you spend less time vacuuming and more time enjoying a clean house. Powerful suction and an innovative brush design help pick up dirt on the first pass, meaning you spend less time going over the same spot of carpet. Learn more at www.bissell.com.

* Ease off on the electronics – The average American watches 34 hours of TV per week, according to one Nielsen report. Use of mobile devices is also increasing, and many families may find they spend more time with some kind of screen than they do with each other during the day. Reducing your family’s screen time could open up hours to enjoy doing things together. Consider family-friendly policies when it comes to use of electronics, such as no mobile devices at the dinner table, no TV with breakfast and no texting the family member in the next room.

* Meet over meals – Sitting down as a family for dinner is a great goal, but not easy for everyone. Shoot for one or two nights a week when you do this, rather than setting a possibly unachievable – and frustrating – goal of every night. Enhance the time spent preparing meals by involving kids in meal prep. This teaches children life skills such as math and measuring, meal-planning and nutrition. It also gives parents the opportunity to share more time with children as they prepare the family meal together.

* Schedule down – Take a look at your family’s schedule. Busy, isn’t it? Now look again. Are you all doing too much? Are you doing things that don’t really bring you individual enjoyment, let alone family fun? As a family, discuss what’s important in your schedules and what you can live without. Allow each family member reasonable time to pursue individual activities, but also eliminate extraneous ones. Reassign that time to family pursuits.

Spending time together as a family provides numerous benefits – from a greater sense of stability for children to improved mental health for adults. With some creativity and the right tools, it’s possible to find more time to spend together with the people who are most important to you.


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