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Kid's Electronics Social Media Summer

How to Keep Your Kids Off Social Media This Summer

Remember the good old days when summer meant running through the sprinklers, playing hopscotch, and riding your bicycle through the neighborhood? I certainly miss that!

These days, summertime for kids often means more time on their computer, phone, or tablet. Chances are high that your kids are probably on a device right now—and if you have teenagers, they’re probably on social media instead of spending time outdoors enjoying the warm weather.

Yes, social media has its benefits and it’s great for kids to be able to stay in touch with distant friends over the summer. But, you know what they say: too much of anything is not good—and that includes social media! Here are a few statistics to put things in perspective:

  • The Huffington Post reports that 71% of teens admit to using more than one social network, including Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Snapchat.
  • The same study found that 56% of teens say they are online several times a day.
  • Another Huffington Post article found that 32% of teens have experienced threatening advances from others when online.

These data are pretty concerning! Other negative effects of too much social media include less sleep, higher rates of cyber-bullying, obesity, disrespect, numbness to violence, and changes in brain structure—the statistics are plentiful.

With that in mind, what better time to start a social media detox than this summer? We mean going cold-turkey. No social media for your kids—or you (because you have to lead by example)—this summer.

Already imagining your kids having a panic attack or staging an outright rebellion? Don’t worry, I have some tips to help keep your kids off social media this summer while still keeping them occupied.

Talk to Them First

Before taking any drastic measures, it’s important to let your kids know why social media will be off the table this summer.

Educate them on the effects of social media and point out how they’re spending too much time on social networks. Highlight the benefits of a social media detox and let them know it’s not forever.

Let’s be real—they will probably resist. Explaining why you’re enforcing a ban on social media is a better route than simply leaving them in the dark, and it may help get them on board with the plan. Make it clear that it’s not up for discussion and there will be no compromises.

Get Rid of Temptation 

Now comes the hard part—enforcement.

Simply uninstalling social media apps will not be effective if you want to stop all social media contact. Try switching out your kids’ smartphones for basic ones so that you can still keep in touch this summer while still limiting their access to the internet.

Put away your other household devices like tablets, desktops, or laptops, and stick to one communal computer in a busy location like the kitchen or living room so that everyone’s activity can be monitored.

Swap Outside Time for Social Media Time

That said, it may be nearly impossible to actually enforce a ban on social media, especially for older, technologically-savvy children.

In that case, give your kids an opportunity to have limited, semi-monitored time on social media a couple days a week. That way they can still check in with their friends, and they’ll be more willing to stick to the social media ban on other days.

For example, institute a swapping system where 2 hours spent doing outdoor activities earns 30 minutes of social media time. You could even make coupons to keep track of the system.

In time, your kids will (hopefully) stop missing social media and will choose to spend more time outdoors doing fun summer activities.

Institute Family Activities

Getting the kids off social media is a big step, but the next is spending more time with them as a family. Instead of sending the kids outdoors by themselves, get yourself and the whole family outside and moving!

Hiking, cycling, camping, fishing, or simply going for a swim are examples of fun activities for the whole family. This is a great opportunity to talk and bond with your kids while they’re not distracted and staring at their phones.

But, make it a rule that no social media is allowed by anyone—even parents—while spending time with the family.

Keeping Your Kids Off Social Media: Lead by Example

Let’s face it, we’re often just as bad about social media as parents—if not worse—than our kids.

Particularly as working moms, it’s easy to become slaves to our devices. Whether we’re checking social networks or work emails, we can set bad examples by over-using our electronics.

To help keep your kids off social media, set a good example by not being so tied to your phone. Don’t distract your kids with the iPad all the time—although I admit it can be a lifesaver at times—and spend more time engaging in outdoor activities with your family this summer.

Not only will your kids benefit, but so will you!


6 Tips On How To Child-Proof Your Home

6 Tips: Child-Proof Your Home

If you are the parent of young children, or you have young children coming to visit with their parents, here are some tips to make sure they stay safe while in your home:

  1. Cover electrical outlets. Plastic electrical covers are a cheap and easy way to protect small children from
  1. Place fragile items and valuables up high. If it’s shiny, colorful, expensive, or made of glass, chances are little hands will want to touch it. Make sure it stays in one piece by placing it on a high shelf or putting it away until your guests leave.
  1. Get in touch with your inner child. Think back to when you were a child and look around your home. Which items would you most like to play with? Move the trinkets or rare books from the lower bookshelves, remove any possible choking hazards and put child locks on the lower kitchen cabinets to ensure that nothing gets broken or misplaced.
  1. Get down to their level. Children are small, so crouch downto their height and travel around your house, looking for areas where they may trip, hit their heads or possibly poke an eye out. If possible, purchase rubber bumpers from the store and place them on your furniture, move potentially dangerous furniture or warn the parents ahead of time.
  1. Think ahead. Slipcovers over your chairs and sofa are easy to was should they get dirty. Placemats on your end tables or coffee table can protect the wood from scratching.
  1. Talk to the parents ahead of time. If you have rules you’d like the children to abide by, tell the parents before they visit. That way they can prepare their children and enforce your rules.

What would you add to this list?


Decatur Dispatch: March 2015

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Tamara Lucas and Brittany Brown are two Decatur moms who have worked together in the wine and spirits industry for 11 years. Both women have degrees in social work and are passionate about helping others. For a long time, Lucas and Brown desired to develop an additional income stream that involved helping others while still maintaining their current, successful careers. They found such an opportunity in the company Moms Making Six Figures, shortened as “Moms”, and are now introducing it to the Atlanta area.

San Diego resident Heidi Bartolotta, founded Moms with two other women in December 2009. For the 12 years prior, Bartolotta had worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative, but after having two daughters, she no longer wanted to work late and travel; she wanted to be home.

To stay at home and also have a career, Bartolotta launched the company, seeking also to help other women get back to their families and either replace or supplement their income, depending on each woman’s life circumstances. Since then, Bartolotta and women like Lucas and Brown have grown Moms to a company of over 400 team members across the country and around the world. For about one-third of those women, their work with Moms has become their primary source of income. The other two-thirds work with Moms part-time, on their schedules, alongside their other careers.

At the company level, Moms is partnered with a U.S.- based manufacturer that makes home and wellness products that are safer for both the individual and the environment and at a competitive price. “Our job is simply to help people. First we educate them about the toxins that can sneak into our homes and about overall wellness. Then we provide a solution to help people reach their personal goals, whether they be related to physical health or financial,” Lucas said.

Team members come from all different backgrounds, education levels and work experience. “The great thing about this team is the incredible level of support,” Brown said. “We all work together to help each other reach our goals. We have fun together and we’re making a difference in so many people’s lives! And the ability to build my own business to create a significant, additional income stream while working from home in my spare time is amazing.”

To find out more about opportunities with Moms Making Six Figures, go to their website


7 Tips For Mamarazzi With Smartphones

Mamarazzi: Taking Better Pictures With Your Smartphone

“Mooooom, another picture? Really?” I can’t count the number of times my siblings and I squawked that question. I was convinced that my mother could have easily pursued a lucrative career in the paparazzi when I was growing up. Among the contents of her bulging purse was a clunky old camera that she carried everywhere. Literally. She was ready to snap shots of everything from birthdays and graduations to hotel bathrooms on family vacations and the loose tooth my brother persuaded me to extract using a string and a doorknob.

Childhood events, significant and otherwise, were recorded ad nauseam with that 35mm monstrosity. It seemed to constantly emit blinding flashes and grating mechanical whirrs as activities were interrupted to pose for pictures. The worst part: upon developing the film, we’d discover that most of the prints weren’t album-worthy. They were either overexposed or blurry or featured someone blinking in the shot. All that effort Mom exerted to motivate her reluctant children to “say cheese”, only to find that one of our heads was blocked by an index finger that she had unintentionally placed in front of the lens.

Family photography has come a long way since then. Now, we have pocket-sized cell phone cameras that display shots immediately after they are taken. We have editing software that allows the modern mother to perfect photos—eliminate red eyes, add artistic filters, crop unwanted background and zoom in on delightful details. We have a selection of modes tailored to capturing anything from action shots to sweeping landscapes. But these technological advances can be daunting when all you want is to commemorate your kid’s first day of school.


1. Get close, don’t zoom. Though not exactly beloved by photography purists, smartphone cameras excel when you bring them close to your subject. Their tiny sensor provides a relatively wide depth of field, offering exceptional focus on small details. But the image noticeably degrades if you use the digital zoom function. If you can’t get near your focal point, consider cropping instead. Zooming in on your photo after it’s shot will do a better job preserving the image’s quality.

2. Adjust to lighting. In photography, light is key. Natural light from the sun is the best option. If you’re indoors, move your subject near the window. But if you’re limited to artificial lighting, try to arrange lamps to illuminate the subject as evenly as possible. Just avoid firing the flash, as the little LED lights aren’t powerful enough to capture the whole scene. In fact, I recommend turning off the auto-flash feature. You’ll have fewer blurry, oddly lit, red-eye night photos as a result.

Outside, direct sunlight creates harsh, unattractive shadows. Overcast days or the hours during sunrise and sunset are perfect for shooting. Otherwise, have your subjects stand in the brightest patch of shade available. I try to keep my back to the sun when taking my shot, but if the sun is on the side of the frame, cup your hand around the smartphone lens for a makeshift hood to reduce the amount of flare.

3. Keep the lens clean. From grungy dollar bills to items our kids retrieved from the floor for us to carry, the contents of our purses and pockets make them dirty places to hold our phones. Fortunately, the lenses are tough. Wiping them with a soft cloth (or shirt in a pinch) can’t hurt, but it’s worth it to occasionally use lens cleaning solution to remove grime and prevent spotty or hazy images.

4. Play with perspective. The best part about your phone doubling as a camera is that it’s compact and you’ll more likely tote it everywhere. Take advantage of its convenience and size by snapping lots of photos from various angles. Take 10 to 20 shots of the same person or event, making sure each frame is unique by doing things such as turning your phone sideways, getting down to a kid’s eye level, using a panorama feature, switching to burst mode (available on newer smartphones) for action shots, introducing props or taking candid photos. Most smartphones or camera apps also have a grid feature that can be used to keep the horizon straight and to create more visually balanced photos by placing points of interest along the lines or where they cross.

5. Hold your phone steady. Ditch the impulse to take a quick arm-length shot. It’ll lead to crooked, blurry pictures. To get a good, sharp image, hold the camera with both hands and pull your arms into your chest or stomach. Some phones or apps also offer a stable shot setting for added support. This measures how much you’re shaking the camera and only snaps the picture when your hand has been steady for a couple seconds. Some apps even let you set the sensitivity, so your phone will wait until you’re barely moving to take the photo.

6. Adjust settings. Don’t let automatic features on your phone do all the thinking. For better control and results, get to know your camera modes and perhaps even invest in an app. There are thousands of apps dedicated to camera functions that can help you easily edit and share photos with friends and family. Here are a few important adjustable settings standard on some phones or available with apps:

White Balance Ever notice that your pictures look a bit orange? White balance helps your camera properly process color. Smartphones are pretty good at detecting the white balance until you enter a setting with low light. You can avoid the resulting unnatural tints by focusing on your subject and giving the phone a few seconds to adapt. But if that doesn’t work, try adjusting the white balance yourself. Typically, the phone will have a few light settings such as “fluorescent” or “cloudy” that, when chosen manually, may give you a better result.

HDR Auto iPhones come with an option called High Dynamic Range, or HDR. It allows you to take clear photos of settings with high contrast light sources (such as a bright sunset against a dark mountain) by snapping several pictures in quick succession at different exposures and merging them into a single image. Ideally, the results are clearer photos, but HDR images take quite a bit of space, so I’d suggest limiting its use.

Focus If you want your camera to single in on a particular subject in the frame, some phones will allow you to tap and hold on the object to prevent your camera from shifting focus. To remove the lock, just touch anywhere else on the frame.

Exposure Meter Available on most smartphones, exposure meters are used to brighten (or darken) images before shooting the picture. They are typically identifiable by a meter bar and a sun icon. Slide left or right before taking the shot to adjust the brightness.

7. Strike a pose. Though I usually avoid being the subject in any photo (probably thanks to my mother), it’s useful to know how to best represent your features in photographs. A couple quick fixes I garnered from a photographer are to tilt your head and angle your body. He says people generally look better when they’re not looking dead-on at the camera. So, slightly turn your head to the side or tilt your head down a little and look up toward the lens with your eyes. For the most flattering body position, stand at a slight angle, tilt your hip, put one leg on tiptoe and keep your shoulders straight.

As I adjust my phone to take the millionth photo of my son’s sideways smirk, I’m grateful that technology is so different from the days of my youth. Then I see my son rolling his eyes and uttering a pleading “Moooom.” I guess some things never change.


Are You Raising A Good Sport?

20090123-Baseball BoysAhead of the Game: Raising a Good Sport

For kids, few things compare to the giddy elation of victory or to the crushing disappointment of defeat. Heck, it’s pretty much the same for adults. Our challenge as parents is to learn to temper these reactions, so we’re not raising whiny kids who scream Not fair! at every loss or who adopt in-your-face attitudes when they win.

Sound familiar? We’ve all experienced this at one time or another. It’s an important issue to address, as this behavior can lead to relentless arguments about scores, cheating, pouting at times of defeat, obnoxious bragging, quitting activities or making excuses rather than coping with loss.

Our instincts are to shield our children from every hazard and celebrate their triumphs. So it’s natural to want to let them win at a card game, overemphasize their role in their little league’s victory or even shy away from competitive activities to avoid potential disappointment. But we live in a competitive world. Sooner or later they will have to learn to deal with opposition without having a meltdown.

As a child, I never had that problem. My family still enjoys embarrassing me by sharing soccer game stories where our team lost because I would chat with other players on the field, unfazed by the ball rolling by. My son, on the other hand, can make a competition out of any activity. In the morning, he declares that he can make it downstairs first. At bedtime, he bets that he can put on his pajamas faster.

While amusing, this competitive bent mixed with his sensitive nature is a recipe for trouble, especially in our family. His closest relatives are his cousins, both varsity basketball players and intensely involved in the game. With March Madness in full swing, they fervidly root for their favorite teams, and my son, significantly younger than my two nephews, mirrors their enthusiasm. Unlike my nephews, when my son’s team loses, it’s a DEFCON 2 fit of despair.

The difference, of course, involves age and maturity, but my nephews have also developed a healthy understanding of competition by participating in sports themselves. They’ve learned to constructively accept loss, respect their opponents and cheer on teammates, even when it shifts attention away from their talents. This healthy attitude developed with encouragement from my sister and her husband. And my nephew’s skills spill over to other activities in their lives, too, from schoolwork to social interactions.

As my nephews have done, learning to face ups and downs with grace will go a long way to improving self-esteem and sportsmanship, even if your kid is an I-will-own-you-at-getting-ready-for-bed type. Not only will they find success in athletic endeavors, but in life as well. Following are 10 tips to help you teach your kids to be better sports, on and off the field.

1. Keep the focus on fun. Once you’ve settled on some activities that interest your children, have them explain to you what they like about each game. Remind them of those things when the scores aren’t satisfying. Whether they are rushing to you in excitement or schlepping home in defeat, always be sure to point out fun moments in the match.

2. Emphasize effort. Remind yourself that your child is not a professional. He or she is not getting paid to perform and therefore has no reason to worry about who is winning. Instead, concentrate your attention on their efforts. Praise ways they give 100 percent and reassure them that a loss or a win isn’t as important as doing their best.

3. Set goals. Help your kid decide what he or she wants to achieve. Maybe it’s to perfect their passing game or score more three-pointers. Or perhaps it’s to simply learn the rules. Whatever it is, keep their focus on achieving those skills rather than comparing themselves to teammates or agonizing over scores. Track their progress and use their setbacks as learning opportunities.

4. Model good behavior. Kids parrot their parents. When you yell at the TV after an opposing team scores, they learn that winning points is important, and, in turn, adopt those frustrations. Whether live or on television, check your conduct during games. Praise others for their efforts, respect the coach’s decisions and congratulate opposing players in front of your kid. They’ll learn from your example.

5. Provide consequences. If they can’t be a good sport, bench them. Once they’ve relaxed, explain to them, in terms they can understand, why they are being punished. Even if they are responding to taunts from an opposing player, explain, “We don’t talk like that on our team.”

6. Downplay celebrations. Teach your kid to keep celebrations low-key. One way to do this is to help them redirect their enthusiasm to the next play. Instead of gloating, they should be thinking, “What’s next?” Also, emphasize team efforts and the role luck plays in the game. “Good thing Jessica passed you the ball,” or “It was lucky the goalie jumped the wrong way.” Urge your kid to recognize excellence and effort in others and to give shout-outs when he or she sees them.

7. Commit to practices and games. It’s ok for your child to decide that a particular activity is not one they would like to pursue. However, they must learn to stick to current commitments. When you sign them up for a sport, teach them that it’s their responsibility to put in the work, sit on the bench when necessary and show up to every practice.

8. Minimize pressure. If your child decides they don’t like a sport or activity, don’t push it. Children who are pressured to do sports often get burned out. Set a balance with non-competitive activities and reassure your child that he or she doesn’t need to perform to make you happy.

9. Ask for input. Ask your kid the rules of good sportsmanship and write their answers down. This will help them consider and commit to better behavior, from respecting the coach to valuing teamwork, by giving them a voice on the subject.

10. Accept loss. When your kid inevitably loses a game, don’t feel too sorry for them or else they’ll put too much importance on the loss. Instead, help them congratulate everyone on the opposing team, identify problems, remedy deficiencies, reset goals and laugh at errors. This will help them realize that falling short of a goal doesn’t mean they are falling short as people and that we love them just the same.


Del Mar Times: Jan 29, 2015

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For 15 years, Jennifer Becker worked in the corporate world. But after becoming a mom, she no longer wanted to work late and travel. She wanted to be home with her daughters.

“When I had my first daughter, I was still traveling and coordinating babysitters,” said Becker, who worked as a supply chain director, first in aerospace and then in consumer goods. “But when I had my second daughter, it just became apparent it was going to be a really hard career to maintain.”

After learning about Moms Making Six Figures, a San Diego-based marketing company that allows women to stay at home and either replace or supplement their income, Becker started with the company in October 2013. By January, she joined the company full time, leaving behind the corporate world for good.

“It was a very male-driven industry,” recalled Becker, who often had to travel across the country and around the world. “There wasn’t a lot of sympathy for women with children. There was always a lot of stress trying to juggle the kids. It was just really hard to balance.”

Becker isn’t alone.

While employment rates for women have been rising in other countries, they have declined in the United States, falling from 74 percent at its peak in 1999 to 69 percent today, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In addition to the downturn in the economy, a lack of family-friendly policies appears to have contributed to the lower rate, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation/New York Times/CBS News poll of unemployed adults ages 25 to 54.

Sixty-one percent of women said family responsibilities were a reason they weren’t working, compared to 37 percent of men. Of women who identify as homemakers and have not looked for a job in the last year, nearly three-fourths said they would consider reentering the workforce if a job offered flexible hours or allowed them to work from home.

To allow women to work from home and either replace or supplement their income, local resident Heidi Bartolotta quit her job and founded Moms Making Six Figures with two other women in December 2009. Since then, Moms Making Six Figures has grown to more than 300 team members.

“The corporate environment is failing families, and moms in particular,” said Bartolotta, a former pharmaceutical sales representative, whose daughters are 9 and 11 years old. “That’s the people we cater to — families looking for an alternative way to create a similar income but have flexibility.”

Although the company launched in San Diego, there are now team members across the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom and Australia. Teams have long been established in San Diego County, Orange County and the Bay Area, as well as in Nevada, Arizona, Chicago and New York. New teams have also launched in Atlanta and Nashville.

Bartolotta said her team is comprised of women from very different education levels, backgrounds and work styles. Interested team members don’t have to have a marketing background, but they do have to have self-motivation and the desire to succeed because they make their own schedules and work from home, she added.

“The benefit of staying with a corporate company doesn’t have the pay-off anymore,” Bartolotta said. “You don’t have pensions and other benefits that companies gave back to you for investing so much of your life. That doesn’t really exist anymore for our generation. A company like ours is so applicable to people because they get to design, own and dictate their schedule and their life.”

“When I found Moms Making Six Figures, I was kind of in disbelief that I could still pull a six-figure income and really work around my kids’ schedule,” added Becker, whose daughters are 3 and 5 years old.

Over the last year, Becker has taken her daughters — now in preschool and kindergarten — to school every morning and picked them up every afternoon. She has gone on every field trip and been at every soccer practice.

“I was pretty much just coming in right at dinner and bath and bedtime, and that was it,” she said. “Now, I really get to be the person to pick them up and hear about their day. I calendar everything the kids are doing, and then I calendar work after that.”

Looking to expand her team at home and abroad, Bartolotta encourages interested women to contact her by filling out a form on the company’s website at

“Check it out and see if it’s for you,” Becker said. “Know there’s an alternative.”

For more information, call 858-837-1505 or visit momsmakingsixfigures.