How to Optimize Your Space (and Prepare Your Kids) for Home-Schooling

Bring the classroom home.


little girl studying by the window
One thing is certain in these uncertain times: Self-isolating and shelter-in-place directives are begetting many challenges for parents with school-aged children, who are now unexpected to take on the teacher’s role while schools are closed. While resources and online learning tools exist, it’s a lot at once. Parents with little or no teaching experience are now facilitating remote learning while also coping with the stressors of a very different lifestyle (for some that could mean working from home, for others it might be a loss of income—all while trying to stay healthy) and a tense global climate during a pandemic.
To help families manage—or at least give both parents and children some constructive ideas for navigating this new balance—we tapped Tara Martello, M.S. to lend her expertise. The founder of Grow Thru Play, Martello is an occupational therapist with over a decade of experience treating children with attention difficulties from birth through adolescence in hospital, clinic, school and home environments. She shared tips for how to talk to kids about what’s going on (when we aren’t even really sure ourselves), as well as how to optimize your home—no matter how large or small it is—for online and at-home learning. At the end, we also included plenty of links to additional resources for low income households and families with any intellectual challenges.

Stick to a Daily Schedule

The transition from school to home may be exciting and painless for some kids and more glaringly challenging for others, but one common denominator is novelty. Martello emphasizes that kids’ cognitive associations with home are often tied to relaxation, fun, and family time; their behaviors are different in this familiar and comfortable space as opposed to the more rigid classroom environment. Understanding and empathizing with this is essential to exercising patience, and will also help parents reset boundaries to reflect the activities and expectations at hand.

Because children function best with a certain degree of structure, maintaining as much of their preexisting routine will be incredibly helpful. Though the backdrop is obviously different, doing little things like setting up a schedule similar to their school’s (even if it has yet to assign a new curriculum) will help keep their minds active and disruptions and transitional anxiety to a minimum. See a sample below, and adjust the timing and activities based upon your children’s needs and ages. You can also make it more specific to the assigned curriculum if that helps them.

coronavirus quarantine sample schedule for families

Set up Desks

First and foremost, Martello urges parents to “minimize distractions. That means no noise at all,” either from you, the television, vacuuming, or whatever. (Or, she says, if your children focus better with some background sound, play soft music or turn on a white noise machine. It might take some trial and error to decipher whether this helps them while they do schoolwork.)

“For the smallest space, even just a table is enough.” —Tara Martello, M.S.

It’s also important to set up an actual surface space for them to work on: Any table clear of clutter where they can sit upright will be just fine. If possible, Martello recommends a chair-and-table situation that allows for the 90-90-90 angle rule: knees bent at a 90-degree angle as well as hips and posture at a 90-degree angle and feet firmly on the floor. And good task lighting! In households that only have one table for the family to work from, try to assign different seats and sections to each family member. “The more designated, the better,” she says, as structure is essential.

To keep siblings focused on their work instead of playing with (or annoying) each other, consider sitting between them while you do your own work. If that doesn’t work—or if you can’t be in the same room with them for whatever reason—try the folder fort trick: Divide their separate spaces with folders to create mini cubicles. You could even turn folder decorating into a makeshift after school activity so they feel like it’s a fun, personal place to learn. Or, if your children are old enough and have their own rooms with desks, they might be able to better minimize distractions there.

Take Advantage of Digital Resources

A bright side: There are tons of great apps and online resources that’ll be especially valuable for learning at home. For example, if your kids miss their friends, coordinate with other parents to organize a virtual hangout with House Party, a video-based social networking app (unless, of course, they’re old enough to facilitate it themselves).

Additionally, says Martello, there are more and more free, live-streamed kid-friendly classes and activities popping up, from painting to yoga, story-time, and more. Browse IGTV for options or download Zoom to see if any of the programs and instructors have moved their sessions online so your children can still learn from them remotely. Documentaries and podcasts are also great options. Keeping them busy for a while will also hopefully free up some of your time. Do your best to reframe their perspective so they can see it as opportunity to slow down, talk and connect to loved ones, play with siblings more, and explore their more creativity.

Encourage Breaks From Screen-Time

While ideally, Martello says, children’s screen-time should be limited to two hours a day (as it can overtax their nervous systems), that’s trickier when everyone’s inside all day. At the very least, “Take breaks from the screen,” Martello says. “All work and screen time shouldn’t exceed 30 to 45 minutes at once.” So, every 30 or 45-minute learning interval should be followed by a 10 or 15-minute break.

If your kids can get outside while still practicing social-distancing, great! If not, try to move “recess” to a sunnier space by a window. What’s important is making sure the kids are active in the home before and after work time to break things up. Of course, this definitely won’t look or feel like “business as usual”—and that’s okay. Definitely expect some meltdowns from toddlers (and even college-aged students, and, probably yourself).

two girls doing homework at kitchen island

Open Up the Conversation

How you approach this will of course vary depending on your kids’ ages and maturity levels, but Martello’s general advice is to “help them identify what’s happening for them” emotionally. The key is to get them talking about their feelings, as that will help you see how you can best meet their emotional needs.

little kid playing with dollhouse

It probably goes without saying that this is not going to be a simple, one-time conversation, but rather an ongoing one that will change as the circumstances do. But in general, it’s a good idea to share how you’re feeling to get the conversation started. For example, if you miss your friends, Martello recommends saying something like, “I’m sad I can’t see my friends either.” This approach can validate their new emotions and make them feel less alone in the experience. If they ask about coronavirus specifically, Martello says to explain it as simply as possible. For example “this is a new virus that makes everyone feel different. Sometimes it looks just like a cold, but for other people, it makes them very sick and that’s why we have to stay inside for a while.”

It’s okay if they’re curious, just make sure to inform yourself as best as possible when providing them with answers. If your kids are older, you can explain that these are preventive measures we’re taking collectively as a community to ensure our hospitals don’t overcrowd. Be prepared for some complex questions—when the “school’s out” mentality wears off, “they will have questions about safety,” too, says. When appropriate, a little sense of humor can go a long way.

Look After Yourself, Too

With all these new stressors comes a variety of material consequences and emotional reactions for parents, no matter how well-adjusted and prepared they may be. When you’re anxious and overwhelmed, work through it the best you can before interacting with your children, Martello says. That can mean talking about it with a partner, friend, or therapist, going outside for some exercise if that’s an option, reading a comforting book, journaling, doing a guided meditation, crying it out in the shower, cooking, really whatever it is that centers you most.

Martello’s primary advice is to avoid oversharing or projecting your concerns onto your children. “When you use your children to process, that’s when it becomes unhealthy. Deal with your emotions and worries first so you can then help them handle theirs,” she clarifies.

Checking in with both yourself and your loved ones should become a regular part of your routine—a little morning, midday, and evening vibe check, if you will. “When we’re worried about our resources, we have to look within,” says Martell0. “We have our breaths. [COVID-19] is affecting our lungs and breaths. If we have it right now, let’s find that inner breath and calm and reach out,” Martello says.

More Resources for Families With Children

Super informative article from House Beautiful.  Here is their website:


Here Are the Things I’ve Stopped Wearing, and What I Wear Instead

I Write About Fashion for a Living:

  • Copy By: Madeline Galassi
  • Feature Image By:@slipintostyle

A couple of weeks ago, our Social Media Editor, Abigail, sent our office a picture of a purse that was sold out and asked if anyone knew of anything similar.

Immediately, my mind went through an inventory of five different nearly identical ones that are available right now—there was one at Topshop, one at Nordstrom, one at Mango that was similar but not quite the same size. It took all of 30 seconds for me to find an almost exact replica of the nude, boxy, top-handle bag.

My point? Half of my mind consists of fashion and trends and what’s on the market and what’s dwindling out. I spend my work days researching trends and writing about them and styling outfits based on them, and I spend my after-work hours scrolling through Instagram and seeing even more content surrounding it.

All of this obviously affects how I dress too. While I definitely pick and choose which seasonal trends I’m going to go all in for, there are some consistencies I’ve noticed in things I used to wear, but now consistently avoid; it hasn’t happened overnight, and they aren’t items that are necessarily considered strictly out of style either. All of my has-been go-tos just couldn’t hold up to updated, similar versions that came along.

These are the pieces I no longer wear, and what I’ve replaced them with instead:


I’m the first to admit that sometimes I’ll see someone in ballet flats and think they look chic as all hell, but when it comes to what’s in and what’s not, other flat shoes have undoubtedly taken the reins. (It’s also hard to put a pair of ballet flats on my feet and not reminisce about wearing them every day of middle school.)


What I Wear Instead: Loafers

Loafers are kind of like ballet flats half-sister, but they’re the successful business-woman sister running into Thanksgiving late because she had a meeting she had to fly out for last-minute instead of the cute, innocent one making the pumpkin pie. Both have their strong suits and admirable qualities, but time and time again, I choose the former—especially for my day-to-day life.

Sam Edelman

Loraine Loafers

Dolce Vita

Halee Mule


The Alex Loafer

3 colors available



I wore skinny jeans exactly once over these past six months, and they made me feel … wrong.

There is absolutely a time and a place for skinny jeans. They can easily tuck into boots and are tempting to wear with tops that are more oversized to balance out proportions, but there are other jean styles that have taken over our lower halves over the past couple of years.


What I Wear Instead: Straight Jeans


A straight-leg jean can do something to your outfit that skinny jeans just can’t. They somehow make everything look more intentional and thought-out and make an outfit look like, well, a look, rather than something you just threw on. There are a million shapes and fits and lengths of straight-leg jean options available, and with a little bit of trial and error, you can find the perfect pair for your body (and once you see the wonders they do for your booty, you won’t look back).


Curve Love Straight Jeans

These are hands-down the best straight jean option for anyone who considers themselves a little fuller-thighed—they’ll still look “straight” without pulling or tugging.

Oh yes, fashionistas.  There’s so much more to see:

18 Best Flowering Ground Cover Plants

Check out these 18 Flowering Ground Cover Plants, you’ll find some best low growing plants on this list, they’re not only easy to grow but looks beautiful too.

1. Bigroot Geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum)

Geranium macrorrhizum Bevan's Variety

Moss Rose (Portulaca)

Portulaca grandiflora 1


Helianthemum Henfield Brilliant

There’s 15 more to view including descriptions at the link below.

19 Ideas To Declutter Your Home

Locked down ?  Got time ?  Maybe get something useful done to your home now while out of action !

Here’s a timely article on doing just that, decluttering by Anton Giuroiu.  So here are a few of Anton’s idea’s:


You don’t want to search for things in your closet or house, cluttered and amalgamated with so many useless things. We know the feeling, trust us! A furniture piece with a lot of smaller drawers is a lot better than a big one with all the stuff thrown in there. If you use each drawer for a category of things, it can be a lot easier, you can even write on a piece of paper what’s in there and you can go straight to your desired place. You can use your staircase as well, to make drawers under or inside of it.


20 ideas to make your house help you organize your precious time homesthetics decor (5)

20 ideas to make your house help you organize your precious time homesthetics decor (25)



Arrange your books in your library after their author, respecting the alphabetical order. Use sticky book back labels for different kind of genders, like red for horror ,black for drama, pink for love, they will both help you manage your books and create a more colorful environment.


20 ideas to make your house help you organize your precious time homesthetics decor (16)

There more at Anton’s web site:

These Hair Colors Will Be Everywhere This Spring

By Jennifer Aldrich and BH&G

As a new season nears, it’s time to revitalize your hair with a fresh color (and maybe a healthy trim, depending on the state of your tresses). Although it can be tempting to go as light as possible when the warmer months roll around, professional colorist Elle Hegarty from Ian McCabe Studio in Washington D.C. says it’s time embrace lower-maintenance colors and healthy hair. And she’s not the only one who loves well taken care of locks: Google searches for “natural hair color” have remained consistently high in the past five years, and queries peak right before springtime.

Hegarty, a graduate of Paul Mitchell Academy, has spent the last five years mastering her technique at salons and barbershops, as well as high-end beauty brands Butter London and Cover FX. She exclusively uses the balayage technique on her clients, which involves hand-painting highlights on the hair. The end result is a natural look that maintains the hair’s integrity. The best part: it doesn’t need to be maintained as often as foil highlights since it doesn’t have the harsh start-line highlights are notorious for having. Plus, the grow-out is beautiful. “I don’t think it’s healthy to highlight too frequently,” Hegarty explains. “The longer you can go, the healthier your hair will be.” Hegarty, who shows off her expertise on her Instagram page, reveals her five favorite spring hair color trends to try this year.

toasted strawberry hair
Courtesy of Elle Hegarty
Toasted Strawberry Blonde

For warm-toned blondes, playing on the golds can result in a gorgeous rosy hue. “It looks more like ‘I go to the beach all summer’ as opposed to ‘I go to the salon all the time,'” Hegarty explains. She says her clients with this color come in once every four months and also stop in for gloss treatments in between colorings.

caramel ribbons hair
Courtesy of Elle Hegarty
Caramel Ribbons

For those with dark hair, brunette highlights are the way to go because they cause minimal harm to the hair and are fairly low-maintenance. Hegarty says she doesn’t like putting blonde highlights on darker tresses. “It doesn’t look believable and is very damaging.” This look only requires highlights twice per year, but she does ask clients to stop in every six to eight weeks for a gloss treatment to tone the color and gives strands a healthy shine.

sandy beaches hair
Courtesy of Elle Hegarty
Sandy Beaches

Icy blonde is breathtaking for those who like to be bold, but this subtler side of the spectrum is ideal for a more natural look. As far as blondes highlights go, Hegarty says this option is relatively low-maintenance and only requires a salon trip once every three to four months. However, a good at-home regimen is essential to keeping blonde hair healthy between visits. She recommends Milbon hair products, such as the Plarmia Hairserum Shampoo, $23 on Amazon.

dark chocolate dream hair
Courtesy of Elle Hegarty
Dark Chocolate Dream

Spring isn’t always about going super light. Dark brunette highlights on black hair are both beautiful and easy to maintain. Hegarty says this look only requires color once per year (yes, really) and a gloss every four months. “I love this for my clients who are such a dark level,” Hegarty says. “It’s just so pretty.”

carrot cake hair
Courtesy of Elle Hegarty
Carrot Cake

If you tried pumpkin spice hair for fall, this red might be the next hue for you. For blondes, this color requires root touch-ups and a gloss treatment roughly every eight weeks, but only needs a full painting once per year. Brunettes should get colored two to three times per year with a gloss treatment every eight weeks. Hegarty loves this rich auburn on clients with fair complexions that have a pink undertone, but be aware that it’s long-lasting. “Red is one of the hardest colors to remove,” Hegarty explains. “If someone decides they want red, that’s what they’re going to be for the foreseeable future.” The process of going back to the original color is time-consuming and, if rushed, can damage the strands.

Thanks to Jennifer for this dose of springtime dreaming.

Justice !

Disgraced Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, was just sentenced to 23 years in prison for the rape of one woman, and committing a criminal sex act on another.  More than 80 other women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment and assault.