Best house cleaning tips from professional cleaners PART TWO

Tips for cleaning your living room

People spend a ton of time relaxing in the living room, so you’ll want to keep it comfortable, clean and dust-free.

8. Stay on top of dust by focusing on hidden areas in your living room

The living room is the place where you, your family and any guests will spend most of your time, so you really want to do a thorough job in there. Johnson says the best way to ensure you’re hitting every spot is to move your furniture as you go. Shift everything around, so you’re vacuuming and dusting the floor underneath where the furniture sits before moving it back.

“This will ensure you’re getting those hard-to-reach places that have been collecting dust all year,” Johnson says. “And don’t forget to vacuum underneath the cushions!”

To stay ahead of the curve in your living room, you’ll want to vacuum under furniture and between cushions at least once a month. If you or a family member have allergies, do those tasks every other week.

9. Use the right tools to deal with dust

Feather dusters might look adorable, but they’re not terribly practical. In order to remove dust effectively in the living room, Boone suggests using a microfiber duster or cloth instead of a feather duster. “Feather dusters tend to just move dust around and not remove it at all,” Boone says.

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Best house cleaning tips from professional cleaners

Have these cleaning products and tools on hand

The best way to set yourself up for cleaning success is to make sure you have the right tools for the job. The good news is that you don’t need a lot of expensive products to keep your home clean. Putting together a caddy of a few basic and reliable items is your best bet.

1. Microfiber cloths are your must-have cleaning tool

Our experts all named microfiber cloths as their favorite go-to cleaning tool.

“Not only is microfiber better at cleaning surfaces than sponges, paper towels and the like, but it’s also machine washable and quick-drying, which means they are far less likely to hold onto germs,” says Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert for Merry Maids.

Johnson says she favors pairing distilled white vinegar with microfiber cloths for surface cleaning. “Combined with water and dish liquid soap, white vinegar is your go-to multipurpose cleaner for stains and general cleaning,” she says.

Jennifer Gregory, brand manager for Molly Maid, is also a big fan of microfiber cloths.

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How to make a King Cake



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How Narcissists Transfer Their Pain Onto Their Children

Narcissists carry much unfinished psychological pain, as evidenced by their exaggerated need for admiration, their illogical attitude of entitlement, their insistence upon controlling others, their pathological defensiveness, and by their penchant for arguing over minutia. They are troubled souls.

If you grew up with a narcissist, their pain was inevitably placed upon you. You were unable at the time to articulate it, but you were needing them to deal with their inner pain so they could offer messages of hope and affirmation.

Messages like:

  • You are valued and loved just as you are.
  • You are competent; let’s figure out together what that means.
  • I want you to feel free and as you age, I’ll teach you how to merge your free choices with responsible goals.
  • With me, you are safe. You can trust me.
  • When we have conflicts, we can manage them maturely.
  • Let’s practice good coping skills, I’ll model it for you.

Instead of offering such messages, though, narcissistic parents are so captivated by their own pain that it defines them and their parenting style. Ignoring logic or common sense, they transfer onto their children the tensions they have never resolved within.

There are a multitude of signs indicating this trend:

  • Narcissistic parents don’t respect a child’s uniqueness. They insist children are supposed to fit their scripted mold.
  • They must be known as the superior one. To them, that somehow proves they are worthy of honor.
  • They do not discuss opinions, beliefs, and perspectives…they just presume the child will fall in line.
  • In small matters, in large matters, they speak critically. Judgment is quite prominent.
  • In conversations, they tell but rarely listen.
  • Discipline is grounded in fear, shame, and guilt, not love.
  • Discipline is applied in anger, often abusively.
  • The narcissistic parents’ “at home” persona is quite inconsistent with their “out there” persona. In public, appearance is everything.
  • They remind children that their public behaviors are a reflection about the parent, and they’d better put on a good show.
  • Even as they require children to apologize, they make no apologies for their own improprieties.

Usually narcissistic parents follow one of two patterns: (1) being highly authoritarian or (2) being neglectful, disregarding the child at crucial moments. Often, they are a combination of those patterns. Either way, their influence upon children can last a lifetime. In their later years, those children can predictably struggle with exaggerated defensiveness, trust issues, ineffective anger, rebellion, or strains against another’s control.

But here is the good news. If you had a narcissistic parent, you can adjust. It will require much introspection and determination on your part, and you might find it beneficial to seek therapy, but it can happen. You are not required to carry your parents’ pain.

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Moms are having screaming parties because they are over it all

No one needs to tell parents these last two years have been challenging. Crushing, even. And women have taken the brunt of the it. And they are done. Totally over it.

Working moms have had to juggle last minute school cancellations because of COVID exposure and be expected to work with screaming kids in the background. Not to mention continuing to cook, clean, grocery shop, and everything else they do.

Stay at home moms are over the constant pinging of their phones to tell them their kid has been exposed at school and now they are “virtual schooling” at home where kids have to sit in front of a screen all day and be expected to keep up with the school work. Meanwhile, mom is at home trying to take care of the kids, answer schooling questions, and keep the household running.

The list goes on – sports teams practices cancelled, the enormous expense of childcare, total uncertainty of the future, no paid leave left for all the last minute changes of schedules.

Just done

At this point, exhaustion doesn’t even top the list of complaints. It’s like walls are being put up at every point when we think we may have seen a sliver of light after these past couple years. The frustration of all of it is weighing on us.

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Pros and Cons Of Being an Empath

Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of being an empath.

  • You can provide emotional support for others

  • You know when someone is in need of help

  • You can tell if someone will be good for you

  • You may often feel emotionally drained

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What Is an Empath and How Do You Know If You Are One?

An empath is a person highly attuned to the feelings and emotions of those around them. Their ability to discern what others are feeling goes beyond empathy (defined simply as the ability to understand the feelings of others) and extends to actually taking those feelings on; feeling what another person is feeling at a deep emotional level.

Science is divided on whether or not true empaths—people who can tap into and take on the emotions of those around them—actually exist, though plenty of people claim to have such abilities.

What we do know is that researchers have discovered what they’ve dubbed “mirror neurons” in the brain which may help us to mirror the emotions of those we come in contact with.1 And it appears some people may have more mirror neurons than others; suggesting that empaths may exist.


How to Know If You're an Empath

There’s no doubt some people are more prone to empathy than others. We’ve all known someone in our lives who was just gifted at reading our feelings, just as we’ve all known people who seem completely disconnected from the feelings of those around them.


So assuming empathy exists on a spectrum, with some people being highly empathetic and others (psychopaths) lacking empathy entirely—how do you measure your own? And at what level would you qualify yourself as an empath?

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Types of Chronic Stress

Sources of chronic stress can vary, but often fall into one of four different types:

  • Emotional stress (difficult emotions such as anger, sadness, or frustration)
  • Environmental stress (where you live and work)
  • Relationship stress (how you relate to friends, family, co-workers, partners)
  • Work stress (challenges and pressures related to your job)

In many instances, these types of stresses affect multiple domains in a person's life. Work stress can create stress in your relationships. Relationship stress can make it more difficult to manage difficult emotions.


For example, if your family is struggling financially or with a severe illness, the stress can become chronic. Someone in your home may not be able to work, bills are piling up and your home is nearing foreclosure, and this can leave you stressed for months or even a year or more.


Your constant worry wears down your body, making you feel tired and anxious. You may be working harder than ever to make ends meet and make unhealthy choices about food and exercise, which can make you feel even worse. This can lead to a number of significant health concerns.


We can also have chronic stress related to work. Many jobs require a lot from us, and it can often feel like you never get a break or are always under pressure to perform.

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What Is Chronic Stress?

What Is Chronic Stress?

Chronic stress is a prolonged and constant feeling of stress that can negatively affect your health if it goes untreated. It can be caused by the everyday pressures of family and work or by traumatic situations.


Chronic stress occurs when the body experiences stressors with such frequency or intensity that the autonomic nervous system does not have an adequate chance to activate the relaxation response on a regular basis. This means that the body remains in a constant state of physiological arousal.


This affects virtually every system in the body, either directly or indirectly. People were built to handle acute stress, which is short-lived, but not chronic stress, which is steady over a long period of time. In order to begin managing chronic stress, it is important to understand what it is, what may be causing it, and how it affects the entire body.



Chronic stress affects both the mind and body. It produces both physical and psychological symptoms that can take a toll on a person's ability to function normally in their daily life.


These symptoms can vary in their severity from one person to the next. Some of the most common signs of chronic stress include:

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Health Benefits to Expect in the First 3 Months After Quitting Smoking

The benefits of smoking cessation can usually be felt within days and continue to improve as key structures of the lungs and heart start to repair themselves.1 Although the results can vary from person to person, many of these changes will occur on a fairly standard timeline. In the first three months after you quit smoking, you can expect to experience some of the following benefits.


Improved Cardiovascular Health

Tobacco contains nicotine and produces chemicals like carbon monoxide that speed up your heart rate and elevate your blood pressure. Vaping with nicotine-based e-cigarette fluids produces the same result. The effect is immediate the moment you inhale.


Within the first 24 hours of quitting cigarettes, your heart rate, blood pressure, and circulation will improve. Your risk of a heart attack will begin to drop within hours of stubbing out your last cigarette.


Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and the number one killer of smokers. By stopping cigarettes and remaining smoke-free for a year, your risk of heart attack will literally be cut in half.2


Improvement of cardiovascular health measures can be expected in anyone who quits cigarettes, without exception. That said, what is "normal" can vary based on your underlying risk of hypertension and heart disease.

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Why Quitting Smoking Is Worth It at Any Age

You're never too old to quit smoking, and there are a bunch of reasons why doing it now will be one of the smartest decisions you'll ever make.

Though you've smoked for years, the benefits you'll enjoy when you quit smoking will begin within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, and the benefits grow for years to come.

  • You will reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer.
  • Your circulation and lung function will improve.
  • If you have chronic bronchitis or emphysema, quitting will help stop further damage.
  • You'll feel physically better, have more stamina and energy, and your self-esteem will soar!

It's never too late to quit smoking.


Do Most Older Smokers Want to Quit Smoking?

Yes! Most smokers, even younger ones, want to quit smoking. What keeps them from quitting? Fear of being irritable, nervous, and tense. Fear of gaining weight. Fear that nicotine withdrawal symptoms will be more than they can manage. Fear that life will be boring without their smokes. 


None of these is a good reason to continue smoking, but nicotine addiction can cloud a person's thinking. 

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What Is Willpower?

If only you could control yourself. If you had more willpower, you could finally lose those last 10 pounds. If you had more self-control, you could finally stop procrastinating, save for retirement, stick to an exercise routine, and avoid various vices such as alcohol and cigarettes.


Does this sound familiar? That's a lot riding on the mere force of will. Fortunately, there are things you can do to strengthen it.


What Is Willpower?

Willpower goes by many names: drive, determination, self-discipline, self-control, resolve.


At its simplest, willpower is the ability to control or restrain yourself, and the ability to resist instant gratification in order to achieve long-term goals. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), other definitions include:1

  • The capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling, or impulse
  • The ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system
  • The conscious, effortful regulation of the self, by the self

Some researchers believe that willpower is partly determined by genetics.2

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The Importance of Maintaining Structure and Routine During Stressful Times - Part 2

Focus on Things You Can Control

Managing your own behaviors can help you feel more in control of the situation. Goldman recommends focusing on the things that are within your power to control.

A good place to start with creating a new routine is to set wake-up and bedtimes, as well as meal and activity times.


The key is to create a routine that adds structure and a sense of predictability to your day. Of course, your schedule may change somewhat depending on the day of the week, but sticking to a basic structure for when you will wake, eat, work, do activities, and sleep can help you feel less stressed out and more organized. 


Structuring your day also ensures that you accomplish those basic tasks that must be done, which will leave you with the time to schedule in other things that you want or need to accomplish.

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The Importance of Maintaining Structure and Routine During Stressful Times PART ONE

Key Takeaways

  • Even if you don't typically thrive on a strict schedule, having a routine can be helpful in times of unpredictability, uncertainty, and stress.
  • Implementing a structure to your day can give you a sense of control. It can also improve your focus, organization, and productivity.
  • Having a routine is about more than just your day-to-day responsibilities and your work—don't forget to make time for self-care.


Some people love to have a solid daily routine, while others shudder at the thought of having a predictable schedule. During times of great stress, however, maintaining structure and routine can help you feel more organized and in control.

 Having a routine can be helpful at any time, particularly if you are trying to establish healthy habits, but these routines can be particularly important when aspects of your life feel uncertain. 
The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have dramatically altered many people’s normal routines, which makes it that much harder to cope with the stress that people are feeling. 
 A Sudden Lack of Structure

Many people are either working from home or faced with the prospect of an unknown period of unemployment. Those working at home may quickly discover that the constant isolation and lack of a normal schedule can be mentally taxing. 

When people don't have a routine or structure to their day it can cause increased stress and anxiety, as well as overwhelming feelings, lack of concentration, and focus.


A lack of structure and routine can actually exacerbate feelings of distress and make you pay more attention to the source of your problems. As Rachel Goldman, PhD, a psychologist and clinical assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine, explains: “If people don't have structure and are sitting around with less to focus on, then they also probably will find themselves thinking about the stressful situation more, which can also lead to additional stress and anxiety."

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How to Break a Bad Habit

Habits are a valuable part of a healthy lifestyle because good daily behaviors get locked in as they become automatic. However (though we may not always like to admit it), we all have bad habits, which can range from the merely inconvenient (biting your nails) to seriously longevity-threatening (smoking). So how can you break a bad habit?

Habits develop with repetition. Understanding the pattern that supports a bad habit can then help you short-circuit the loop.

As New York Times investigative reporter Charles Duhigg outlines in his authoritative book The Power of Habit, all undesirable behaviors share these fundamental traits:


How Is a Bad Habit Reinforced?

It's easy to see that a habit like brushing your teeth may be triggered by bedtime (the cue), the teeth brushing itself (the routine) follows, and the reward delivered (mouth tastes clean and fresh, bedtime readiness is underway).

Even negative behaviors offer a reward of some kind. Perhaps it's anxiety relief, as it might be in the case of cigarette smoking; maybe you crave social contact and find it most easily over too many drinks at the bar after a stressful day at work. Unless you try and dissect the powerful components of this loop, you are doomed to repeat the bad habit.

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10 Great Tips for Keeping Your Resolutions This Year

The start of a new year is the perfect time to turn a new page, which is probably why so many people make New Year's resolutions. The new year often feels like a fresh start and a great opportunity to change bad habits and establish new routines that will help you grow psychologically, emotionally, socially, physically, or intellectually. Of course, resolutions are much easier to make than to keep, and by the end of March, many of us have abandoned our resolve and settled back into our old patterns.1

Why We Make Resolutions

In one study, only around 12% of people who make New Year's resolutions felt that they were successful in achieving their goals.


Some of the most common resolutions include losing weight, sticking to a healthier diet, exercising regularly, making better financial choicesquitting smoking, and spending more time with family.

While many people feel that they don't necessarily achieve their resolution goals, there is some good news.

According to one study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, those who set New Year's resolutions are 10 times more likely to actually change their behavior than people who don't make these yearly goals.3

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Why Are Narcissists So Unwilling to Change?

Each person (including you, including me) is a work in progress. No one can accurately state: “I am fully actualized; I’m 100% pure.”

You would think such a notion would be self-evident, but try stating that to a narcissist. They can be so determined to maintain a False Self that they have great difficulty acknowledging the obvious. And even if they do admit flaws, it is inevitably followed by the word but.

“I may not be perfect, but neither are you.”
“I might have made a mistake, but I’m still better than most. And besides, my mistake was someone else’s fault.”
“Complain about me all you want, but if you do, I’m not buying it!”

Because of their insatiable need to be special, to be above the fray, it’s unlikely you will hear a narcissist say with any sincerity: “I have some work to do deep inside my character, so let’s have some honest discussions about that.”

Why is it so difficult for narcissists to admit the need for change? Is it that hard?

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7 Relationship Problems That Always Surface Around The Holidays

The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year for some, but that’s not necessarily true when it comes to relationships.

The stress brought on by travelfinancesextra-busy schedules and difficult relatives may take a toll on you and your partner, individually and as a couple.

We asked marriage therapists to share common relationship problems that always seem to crop up this time of year and how to handle them. Here’s what they told us:

1. Not being honest about holiday spending

“Between buying presents, plane tickets, parties, decorations, extra food and more, holiday spending can lead to disagreements about how much and where money should be spent. Serious problems arise if one partner keeps the other in the dark about their spending and budgets are not discussed ahead of time.


“To avoid the feeling of financial infidelity, sit down and discuss a realistic financial plan ahead of time. Together decide how much money you can afford to spend, create a budget and stick to it. Go over your gift list and pick who is on the top 10 and how much your budget will allow for each person. Create a plan for alternative gifts that will spread the cheer but not cost much, to make your money go farther ― baking cookies, making homemade gifts and cards or a creating a special evening out at some future date.” ― marriage and family therapist Sheri Meyers 

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As wonderful as the holiday season is, this time of year is particularly hard on relationships. Nobody likes to talk about it, but statistics show that more breakups, divorces, and infidelities happen around the holiday season than any other time of year. Happy holidays? Not for everyone…

Why are the holidays such a strain on relationships? You already know this – the holidays are a particularly busy and stressful time because we are…

  • Constantly on the go and rushing around to shop, attend holiday parties and performances, and get our house decorated and cleaned.
  • Often forced to be around difficult people and put in stressful situations.
  • Trying to navigate the expectations that other people put on us during this season.
  • Tired and drained- physically, emotionally and financially.

Worst of all, while all of this is happening, we aren’t getting any quality time with our partner because our hectic schedule has us occupied and pulls us in different directions.

Beware! This is definitely a unique time of year when your relationship is vulnerable.

Here are six tips to keep your relationship healthy during the holidays.

  1. Be intentional. Make your relationship a priority and protect it. If you have to, schedule time to be together and talk.
  2. You are a team. Don’t let kids, in-laws, extended family, or anyone else pit you against each other or pull you in opposite directions.
  3. Learn to say “No.” So much holiday stress comes from trying to meet other people’s expectations. You don’t have to do everything.
  4. Break traditions. Traditions are meant to bring people closer together. If a particular tradition causes arguments and stress, maybe it’s time to let that tradition go.
  5. Compare and despair. Resist the impulse to compare your holiday experiences with other people’s. Social media lets us look in on other people’s parties, decorations and presentsDon’t compare, because what you are seeing isn’t reality anyway.
  6. Communicate! Be honest about your needs and your stress levels. Have conversations about holiday spending, visits, and parties. Get on the same page before it becomes an argument.

In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, remember what really matters – your relationship with the people you love. Happy holidays!

8 Ways To Manage Relationships Over The Holidays

The holiday season can bring with it connection and joy, but also relationship challenges.  I wanted to provide strategies designed to help you love unconditionally, in whatever way works best for you.  To help you greet your loved ones with genuine affection, and part ways feeling clear and happy.  In the end, this may be the best holiday gift you’ll ever give to the people you cherish the most.


Here are 7 tips to help you manage relationship dynamics over the upcoming festive period.


  • Forgiveness – It is so important to forgive each other and ourselves, and do this often. And try to not repeat the things you are forgiving FOR. 


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