If you are hiring out to have your home alarm installed, always use a licensed vendor to install, repair, or service an alarm system. While licenses do not guarantee honesty, it does indicate that the vendor has registered with the state, and has met the specified minimum criteria for your locale. In most cases, a license is predicated upon proof of adequate insurance and/or bonding, so you have that protection as well. Local alarm systems (those which sound only on the protected premises) are much less effective, especially when local ordinances limit the time for which the signal can sound to avoid nuisance disturbance of neighbors. If you invest in such an alarm, you are counting on conscientious neighbors to call the police to respond. Having the signals from your alarm system monitored by a licensed vendor better assures that you get the protection you pay for when you install an alarm system.


Simple Steps to Get an Organized Start to the New School Year

The lazy days of summer are behind us and another school year is in full swing. It's once again time to handle the deluge of school papers that flow in and out of our homes. For students and parents alike, getting an organized start to the new school year can make the difference between having a successful school year or not. Follow these seven simple steps and you and your child will have the best year yet. 1.

Establish family ground rules relating to school year daily schedule, such as bedtime, homework completion, TV watching, computer surfing, and socializing. Establishing these expectations at the beginning of the school year communicates the parent's priorities and commitment from the start. Children need and want these boundaries to feel safe and secure, whether they know it or not. 2.

Establish a Command Central for processing children's paper ? incoming and outgoing. Put an end to the school paper chase by establishing a zone for processing school paper ? incoming and outgoing. This area, I call Command Central, is where parents review and process action papers (permission slips, lunch money, homework sign-offs, etc.) for quick turnaround. Adopt a simple "In/Out box" where you will process paper (preferred location: in or near the kitchen) and instruct your children to place papers for mom's review in her Command Central In box. Completed paper is then given to children for return to school.

3. Establish a zone for the daily backpack pickup/drop close to the door where your child enters and exits each day. After mom has processed the papers that need to go back to school, she can then return them to this zone for the kids to return to their backpack. This simple strategy will greatly ease the morning rush. 4.

Set up a desk or workspace that is conducive to concentration and focus. Considerations for setting up the child's workspace should include lighting, noise levels, space to spread out, privacy, availability of supplies and anything else that adds to the structure. Stock drawers with basic supplies your child needs, which will keep him/her focused on completing school work instead of the distraction of searching for a needed school supply.

5. Establish a system and tools to help your child be organized at school as well. It is critically important for children to develop organizational skills at an early age. Accordion folders or binders with pocket folders labeled for each class can be an easy organizer system for your child to keep papers corralled at school as well as home. Once your child is old enough to use a locker at school, equip him/her with locker accessories that allow subjects to be separated by, perhaps, morning and afternoon classes. 6.

Don't overload children with extra-curricular activities. Today's school children are overscheduled and stressed. A balance of academics, activities and down time is necessary for academic success and mental health.

Make every effort to have dinner together as a family and avoid outside activities that distract from this important family ritual. Ask yourself what's more important, your kid's skills or their sanity? 7. Establish an age appropriate chore routine to keep your children engaged and accountable to the family unit. With every family member pitching in to help the household run smoothly, more time is freed up for fun family activities when the work is done. Establish these simple yet powerful routines and you and your children will be on the road to school year success and beyond.

Janet Nusbaum, of Simplified Spaces, is an Organizing Consultant, Author & Speaker. She bring serenity and order to frazzled families, overwhelmed households, cluttered offices, and downsizing seniors. Janet is an expert blogger for titled "The Simplified Move." Visit to receive our 5-page report "Shelf Life of 75 Household Goods."

Home Security

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Tips for a Tidy Home - Learn how to keep a neat and tidy house by investing just a little bit of time and money to get organized.

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