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Three Ways to Make a Small Garden Work for the Whole Family

Three Ways to Make a Small Garden Work for the Whole Family

*This is a collaborative post.

 

Spring is my favourite season of the year. I love the light nights, the pretty flowers and the warmth! Spring always hold so much hope and it always feels so good to have a long summer ahead of us. Each year I spend the early spring sprucing up our garden, making sure that it’s clean and tidy and ready for spending our days outdoors. As we have quite a small garden, organising our space doesn’t take up too much time. What we do have to think about though, is how we can make the small space that we do have, work for each of us individually and as a family together.

Now that our girls are both on their feet, we just can’t get away without having outdoor toys for them to play with. From trampolines to slides, you name it we have it! Long gone are the baby days when a blanket and a few toys would suffice. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the girls having toys out there, I want them to enjoy our garden too. Having said that, it’s nice to make sure we have an adult space outdoors. So that we can sit out in the evening and relax, or work which is much more likely! We also have two rabbits who love to spend time outdoors when the weather is fine, so we really do have a lot to squeeze in to a small space.

 

Here are three ways we make our small garden work for the whole family;

 

Have designated areas for each member of the family –

Even though our garden is small, we have designated areas for each of us. Granted the kids have most of the space and we do have a lot of brightly coloured plastic around the garden, but we make sure that each item has its own space. We have an area with patio furniture, which we use to relax in. You can find some great patio furniture deals from Groupon, there are pieces to suit every taste and garden size. This area also has a small BBQ in it too, so that Hubs and I can enjoy our evening meals outside on summer nights!

I love to see pretty flowers and I think it’s good to get the kids involved in a little gardening. So, we have a very small but neat garden area that we grow a few seasonal flowers in. This area benefits the whole family and when the flowers are in bloom, it draws your attention to them instead of the kids toys. Our bunnies have their own little space too, so when we’re all outside together everyone is happy!

 

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Be selective with what you keep in your garden, don’t over power your space with too much stuff –

I’ve already mentioned that we have a lot of kids toys in our garden and to be honest, we are on the brink of over powering it. These days, we have to stop and think about the things that we buy, so that we don’t add too many bits and bobs to an already small and crowded area. We make sure that the toys that we buy can be stored in the garden shed and when we recently bought a new table, we went for the smaller option to make sure it fit nicely in the space we have. It’s important to step back and look at what you have. If it feels like things are getting on top of you, then it’s probably time to have a clear out and get some garden back!

 

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Keep your outdoor space tidy –

This is by far the easiest way to make sure that your garden works for everyone that uses it. They say that an untidy house makes for an untidy mind and I’m sure this works when you head outdoors too! I always make sure that things are put back in their place at the end of the day, that way each area doesn’t encroach on another.

 

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Transform Your Garden with Decorative Gravel

Transform Your Garden with Decorative Gravel

It can be so difficult to keep up with gardening when you’re a parent; sometimes our garden tends to get overlooked when we’re busy with the girls and keeping the house organised. However, the garden can be such a lovely space for the whole family to enjoy, so it’s great to get things sorted before the summer months come along. Luckily, in many ways gravel and other aggregates can really jazz up the garden and make it easier to maintain too!

Whether you’re looking for understated Cotswold gravel or gorgeous plum slate chippings, Gravel4You is a huge decorative aggregates supplier with a range of bulk bags on offer. I’ve teamed up with them to give you some great ideas on what you can achieve with gravel in your garden:

Using Decorative Aggregates in Your Garden

Gravel isn’t just for mulching (though it is useful for this and many other practical applications!) There are plenty of ways you can use decorative aggregates to transform your garden space. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Pathways

Decorative aggregates can help you update your garden with magical winding paths, making your outdoor space great for a stroll or for enticing children’s imaginations to run wild as they run around. Using a mixture of gravel and stepping stones creates a lovely path for children to play on. Good decorative aggregates for paths include pea gravel and golden flint gravel (anything smaller than 10mm may get stuck underfoot!)

Gravel Gardens

Looking for relaxation in your garden? Creating a gravel garden with a variety of chippings and stones can provide even the smallest gardens with a peaceful space to maintain and enjoy, as well as the perfect environment for low-maintenance, hardy Mediterranean plants.

Cosy Fire Pits

Another great way to use gravel in the garden is for creating a fire pit where you can relax by the fire on long evenings. You’ll need plenty of gravel to surround the pit and for drainage in the pit – plonk some chairs around the pit and you’re set for cosy outdoor relaxation! Of course, this will require supervision when the kids are about.

Getting the Kids into the Garden

In the age of screen entertainment, sometimes it can be a struggle to get kids outside to play and enjoy the fresh air – this goes for adults too! I love anything that encourages my girls to get outside and exploring. Gravel4You have that covered too – their play-safe range of bark chippings and play pit sand are great additions to the garden for children’s areas.

 

 

*This is a collaborative post.

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Child-Friendly Lawn Care and Garden Tips For Your Home

Child-Friendly Lawn Care and Garden Tips For Your Home

When it comes to thinking of things to do that are cheap and accessible with the children, playing and planting in the garden is a great choice. Even though we don’t have the biggest outdoor space in the world, it is enough for us to get some fresh air, teach the kids about nature and seasons and for both us adults and children to relax. I like to spend a little time each year planning out my lawn care and gardening ideas, to make sure that we get everything out of our garden that we can! I’ve put together some ideas to create a lovely and safe garden (no matter what your space limits!) that will suit both kids and grown-ups. 

 

 

Safety First!

My number one priority is keeping the garden a safe space for my children to explore in. It’s so important to be able to let them run around without that worry that they’ll hurt themselves. A fence is a great first step in child-proofing your garden, to make sure they don’t escape whilst you aren’t looking! If you’re considering a pond, I would probably advise against it. Not only are ponds costly and require a lot of maintenance, they are a risk to smaller children and older, unsupervised kids. A great alternative is a solar-panelled water feature, which will give you that water element and most children find them really entertaining to look at! High steps also present a potential danger, so if you can, try and level them out or reduce the height of any steps. 

Grow Their Minds

Gardens are a fantastic place to teach your kids the amazing things that happen in nature. In our garden, we have a small planted area for them to experiment with. You can plant tulip bulbs from early October, so that they flower in the Spring, or get veggies on the go (pro-tip: Autumn is great for planting rhubarb!) This will teach children the responsibility of caring for plants and it will give all the family fresh vegetables and flowers to enjoy! 

A sensory area is another great stimulation for growing minds. Why not build in wooden boxes filled with pebbles, sand, bark chips or other materials for them to get their hands in. 

Lawn Care and Plant Tips

The lawn is the centrepiece of any garden, and for a family it’s great to have a flat, healthy and open lawn. I find it best to avoid any large trees or bushes in the centre of the lawn, as that can block your view of the children playing in the garden. Having a lush, green lawn is something for us grown-ups to enjoy and makes a beautiful setting for BBQs or entertaining friends. When it comes to lawn care, choosing fertilisers and a care plan can be complicated and costly. Hiring professionals to look after your lawn care can save you time and money. Greensleeves’ treatments are child-friendly, so you can rest assured that your kiddies aren’t picking up any nasty chemicals!

Welcome Nature

Your garden can also help you do your bit for the environment. You can find loads of easy guides online to make home-made bird feeders, which will keep those little hands busy and your garden birds happy. I know my children get really excited when they see birds snacking on the feeders that we’ve made together. I’ve also noticed a few guides on building hedgehog houses and planting wild flowers that attract bugs and wildlife, but we might not quite be at that craft level just yet! 

 

 

*This is a collaborative post.

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Four Fun Garden Activities for Kids

Four Fun Garden Activities for Kids

This week, 14th – 20th August 2017, marks National Allotments week. When I found out it was coming up, it reminded me of the many hours I used to while away on my Grandfather’s allotment and how much fun I had in the process. As a result I love nothing more than spending the day outdoors in the nice weather, whilst my girls wear themselves out discovering nature. We don’t have a huge outdoor space but we definitely make the most of what we have. Our garden is jam packed our with flowers, toys and a sandpit for the girls to play in! So with that in mind and taking into account our love for the outdoors, here are four fun garden activities to keep your kids entertained this Summer!

Growing Plants

Growing plants is a great way to teach children about nature and for them to have fun! The planting process means they can get messy digging holes in the compost and planting seeds. Then teaching them to look after their plant by watering it and making sure it has enough sunlight gives them responsibility, which they will love. The best part though is seeing their little faces when their plant begins to grow. Growing plants is a great way to teach your children how to nurture another living thing.

Make a Den

Making a den is brilliant fun for kids! You can gather up sticks, leaves and anything else you find lying around to build walls and to make a roof! Making the den is only half of the fun though, once their little house is built they’ll play for hours in and out of their new crib! If you really want to make den building extra special you could take a look at Garden buildings from Lidget Compton. My girls would love their own house in the garden, it’s the perfect parent free zone!

Make a Bug Hotel

Bug hotels are super easy to make. All you have to do is gather up leaves, twigs, bricks and wood – literally anything you find sat unused in your garden. Then piece them all together creating a variety of habitats, with nooks and crannies galore for bugs to hide in. It doesn’t take long for insects and the like to take up residence in their new accommodation, the kids will be fascinated by all the different species that move in!

Homemade Bird Feeders

Homemade bird feeders are a great way to attract many different kinds of birds into your garden. My girls love to see our feathered friends, so making feeders is a firm favourite of theirs. You can use old plastic milk bottles, drinks bottles or even hollowed out fruit such as oranges. All you have to do is fill them with seed, hang them in your garden and watch the birds flock for the goodies you’ve put on offer. They’re fun for the kids to make and it’s amazing to watch the birds enjoy their seed!

What are your favourite outdoor activities?



 

*This is a collaborative post.

 

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#PostcodePride – I Love Manchester

#PostcodePride – I Love Manchester

Every town and city has attractions that draw in visitors on a daily basis. Tourists come and go, to see the what amazing spectacles different areas have to offer. Living in areas of interest can be so much better than just visiting though.  One of the best things about knowing an area like the back of your hand, is that you get to know all of the hidden gems that surround you! If you do need to find out more about an area however, there are always services like PCA Predict Address Verification.

A place that is so close to my heart is Manchester. Yes there are popular attractions such as Old Trafford and the Museum of Science and Industry, both of which are places worthy of you paying a visit next time you’re in the North! There are however, places that are less well know but will offer value, education and culture should you wish to venture away from the obvious!

I love Manchester and because of my #PostcodePride, I thought I’d share with you a couple of my favourite hidden gems in the city!

Walkden Gardens

Now don’t get me wrong I love Manchester for the city lights, shopping, bars and restaurants and if you’re visiting for the day then these should definitely be on the top of your priority list. I however, love noting better than venturing out of the centre and to find a peace and quiet in the tranquil Walkden Gardens. A lot of people aren’t even aware that this place exists, but if you’ve had enough of the hustle and bustle of the city, this place is perfect to take the weight off of your feet.

The garden has many different areas including a fuchsia garden and a conifer garden, my absolute favourite though is the cherry walk. The tree lined, wooded path is exceptionally relaxing and if you go at the right time of the year you’ll also be surrounded by pretty bluebells, bliss!

There have been many times over the years where these gardens have offered a place to rest, think and reflect on life, they’ll always hold a special place in my heart!

 

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The Portico Library

In my opinion, The Portico Library is one of the most amazing things about Manchester. It’s so well hidden though, that a lot of the locals don’t know it exists never mind those visiting! Even if you’re not an avid reader, this library is worth visiting just take in how amazing it looks. The majority of the books kept here are from the 19th century and as such are more for the researchers among us. This place does have a lovely little cafe that you can sit an relax in though, as you sit soak up the history.

I love heading to The Portico Library to hide away from the stresses of city life, sometimes it’s nice to take a bit of time out and this is the perfect place to do so!

 

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Manchester will always hold a special place in my heart, there are so many amazing things to see and do that are off of the beaten track!

 

*This is a collaborative post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Make Your Garden More Private with These Top Tips!

Make Your Garden More Private with These Top Tips!

Are you getting tired of the neighbors looking into your garden whenever you are enjoying a bit of relaxation in the afternoon? Perhaps you don’t have the problem of nosey neighbors, but your garden is located in such a place that makes it feel like you don’t have any privacy at all? If this sounds familiar, don’t fret, as we have some top tips to help you bring some privacy to your outdoor area.

Put a fence up – Let’s start with the most obvious tip of them all, putting a fence up. A fence can give your garden a more polished appearance while also enabling you to benefit from more privacy. There are many different styles of fences on the market, and if there is only one part of your garden that makes you feel exposed, you may want to consider a chain link fence in the yard. This is a good option because it is a transparent fence, ensuring the sun still comes through. You can simply plant climbing plants up the fence at the part you want to be covered, adding beauty and giving you the privacy you need without making your garden feel dark and too enclosed.

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Put up a pergola – Create your very own outdoor living room with a pergola. This is an investment that is definitely worth making. You can create your very own private destination within the garden for those sparkly summer evenings. This is a great way to add the wow factor to your garden while also creating a space for barbecues and entertaining friends.

Hang drapes – This is an elegant garden addition that will also give you the privacy you are aiming for. By strategically placing swaths of fabric over your outdoor area you can create a breezy coastal vibe and lots more privacy. This is also a budget friendly solution, especially if you already have an arbor or patio.

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Grow a hedge – If you are looking for a natural solution to your privacy problems, why not plant a hedge? This may take a little bit more effort, but it will be worth it in the end. When choosing the right type of plant for your garden, make sure you consider the important factors, i.e. how often it needs to be pruned and watered, what type of light it requires, and how high it will grow. Classic choices for hedges include the likes or privet and boxwood. However, flowering bushes like laurel and rhododendron are beautiful and they can grow up to eight-feet tall.

Make a potted screen – A final suggestion for adding more privacy to your garden is to create a potted screen. Almost every type of plant can be grown in a pot, and this is a much more flexible solution than some of the options mentioned above, making it an excellent solution for rental accommodation. For maximum privacy, plant varieties of fruit trees, tall grasses, and bamboo.

If you use one of the five suggestions that have been mentioned above, you can make sure your garden looks beautiful while also benefitting from the added privacy you need.  

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What Makes A Garden Worth Spending Family Time In?

What Makes A Garden Worth Spending Family Time In?

The sun is shining outside and many are lamenting the fact that they don’t have any private outdoor space of their own to enjoy the weather in. However, you don’t have to suffer like them. If you have the space you could create a garden that the whole family can enjoy. Not just for the summer, but for the whole year. So, what makes a garden space that works for the whole family?

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A Garden that’s Tended to

First of all, you have to be comfortable with actually being out in the garden. A garden that is crawling with weeds and growing outside of its boundaries is not fit to be a family garden. Even if you’re not going all-out with landscaping and creating beautiful flower displays, you should have a schedule that allows you to take care of the garden and keep it from being an eyesore without too much effort. Privacy is another major factor of a garden you can be comfortable with. Tall fences or bushes don’t only let you and the family enjoy the garden without peering eyes. They can be good for offering shaded areas too.

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A Garden that has some Actual Usable Space

Sure, you might be just fine with spending some time lying on the grass or just sitting on the back step. If you want to socialise and enjoy the occasional meal outside however, you need space that’s liveable. Stone patios are more permanent and require a little less maintenance, but decking can be cheaper especially if you’re willing to do the DIY which isn’t hard. Good living space is about more than function, consider selections like rattan garden furniture from www.oakita.co.uk that can make the space comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Treat the outdoor family space as another part of the house, with all the same focus on décor and comfort. If you do, you’ll be inclined to spend a lot more time in it.

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A Garden Fit for all Seasons

Of course, to spend time in your garden you have to be able to stick whatever the weather’s throwing at you. You might be outside to enjoy some sunshine, but when the weather is not so warm sitting outside can be uncomfortable. Outdoor heating from places like https://www.heat-outdoors.co.uk/ can help keep a garden pleasant and useable throughout Autumn and Winter. Otherwise, throughout the rest of the year the garden can be forgotten.

The garden has to be safe and comfortable and it has to have space that’s fit for  family use. Most importantly, it has to be useable the whole year around. The garden can be one of the most important ‘rooms’ of the house, if you get it right!

 

*This is a collaborative post.

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Make Your Garden a Perfect Place for Your Kids

Make Your Garden a Perfect Place for Your Kids

After a few months in hiding (during a season where it was supposed to be out in full view!), the sun is starting to really make its presence known. It’s about this time that parents start to turn more of their attention to the garden. Not just for their own pleasure, of course, but as an outdoor area for their kids to enjoy.

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We want to ensure our kids get out more often, right? Well, what better way to encourage this that to ensure they have a fun area to explore and play in just beyond the back door of their home? Making sure your yard is a child-friendly and fun as possible is definitely one of the best ways to get them running around, exercising both their muscles and their imaginations.

So how do we make a garden that’s perfect for kids? Here are some of the ways you can do it without breaking the bank in the process.

 

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Make it Neat and Safe

One of the key elements on any area in which children are going to be spending substantial amounts of time? Safety. If you want kids to be as safe as possible, then you need to ensure that the garden is devoid of as much danger as possible. Of course, it also has to be kept neat; after all, long, unkempt grass could be hiding a variety of dangers. You can make sure its kept mown, or even check out the ultimate guide to artificial grass if you think this would make things simpler. This could be a great solution if you don’t have much grass in the garden, as grass helps encourage play and keeps the ground cushioned!

As for safety measures, there are more than you might have thought. You should avoid water features, especially if your children are very young. The plants you have in your garden also matter, as some of them are dangerous. Speaking about plants…

 

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Get a vegetable garden going

One of the best ways to get your kids really invested in the garden is to grow vegetables together. (Sure, you could grow fruits instead, but they tend to take quite a bit longer!)

You may think that children wouldn’t be that much interested in exercising their green fingers. They may even balk at the idea if you present it to them! But why not bring them along as you get started and explain how much good this can do. Children will be more interested in growing things than you might think. Seeing the eventual reward on their dinner plate will definitely help them appreciate this area of the garden much more, and it may even teach them important life skills!

Add play facilities

When people think of play facilities in their garden, they may think of things that are very elaborate and expensive. But it really needn’t be! Instead of getting a swing set, consider building a swing from a branch available in the garden. (Even if you don’t have a branch, swing sets aren’t quite as expensive as people think!) Having soccer goals and basketball hoops in the garden also help promote exercise, though you’ll need to ensure balls don’t go into your neighbour’s gardens!

 

*This is a collaborative post.

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Great Ideas For A Child Friendly Garden

Great Ideas For A Child Friendly Garden

With the Summer holidays on the way, your children will be away from school and looking for something to do in the warm weather. Getting out in the garden is a great time for playing and being at one with nature.  Your garden will need to be both safe and practical for your children, as well as fun!

Here are some useful ideas for making your garden a child friendly place.

A Place of Safety

If your children are old enough to play safely outside without you constantly looking over their shoulders, the area needs to be safe. You are probably going to have a few scuffed knees over the holiday season, so you don’t need to wrap your children up in cotton wool. However, there are simple ways you can make your garden a safe place to be.

 

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Secure the fence and gates. Especially if you have very young children, you don’t want them squeezing through gaps in the fence or getting out of an unlocked gate. Especially if you live in a well populated area.

Be aware of any water you have in your garden, from a trough to a pond. Children can drown in only a few inches of water, so if you do have a pond buy barriers to prevent them from falling in.
If your kids have play equipment outside, ensure you have soft landing mats beneath. Grass may be soft to touch, but is harder to land on after a fall.

Every garden needs a few plants scattered around, but some can be toxic to both touch and taste. When you buy new plants they are often labelled for safety, so take heed of any warnings. Not all berries are safe either, so remove any from bushes to avoid your children having a nibble.

A Place to Flourish

Being outdoors is educational for any child and while there are things you don’t want them to touch, there’s no harm in them exploring the wildlife and plant life within. They may get mucky but that’s all part of the fun for kids, so let them discover the wonders a garden can bring.

You can create great bonding opportunities with your children when you spend time in the garden together. You can teach them valuable lessons about nature and wildlife, whilst having fun doing it. For example, growing your own fruit and vegetables can be a wonderful shared experience. Whatever the size of your garden, make a plot, where you and your children can plant seeds and watch them grow together. Children are notoriously fussy eaters so it may make the greens on their plate more exciting to eat, if they’ve spent time growing them. If you have a small garden, 4×4 greenhouses are a great place to grow tropical fruits such as apricots, peaches, and nectarines.

You could set up a birdhouse with a water and feeding area. Encouraging your children to replenish the water and food every day, will teach them how to care about other living things

Whatever you do this summer, make it a memorable and fun time for all of you!

 

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Promoting Healthy Habits in Your Children With Your Garden

Promoting Healthy Habits in Your Children With Your Garden

One of the things we’re constantly worried about as parents is how to promote healthy habits in our children. We don’t want them to smoke, binge on alcohol or do anything that could harm their health in the future. We don’t want our kids to grow up sedentary and we want them to remain as active as possible. Sadly, it’s hard for some of us to convince our children to go out to see their friends when they can easily sit at a computer and play online video games with them, or converse with their entire school through Facebook.  It’s difficult to convince them to get active and it doesn’t help when we try to force them to do something they don’t want.

That’s why it’s easier to build those habits into them from an early age. As soon as your child becomes a toddler, it’s time to start introducing those healthy habits. Here are just a few ways to use your garden in order to do so!

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Teach them to Appreciate Green Living

Something that’s becoming popular is green living. The idea that we’re slowly killing our planet is a scary one and many children like to help. They’ll do anything they can to save the world in their own way. So in order to take advantage of that, why not teach your children to appreciate green living using your garden?

Instead of going out to the store and buying vegetables all the time, why not grow some from home? You can teach your children to grow their own produce even if you have a small farm in the backyard. If you don’t have much space, then an indoor planter can also work. It takes a bit of effort to start up your own garden, but it’s worth the effort to teach your children the values of green and sustainable living.

Teach them to Value Nature

With a simple bird feeder, you’ll be able to attract birds for a relaxing and calming session of birdwatching. You could take it a step further and even install a pond in your backyard if you want a place to keep fish and which are great to teach your child about nature. A bird feeder doesn’t take much maintenance, but installing a pond can be expensive and will require accessories like a pond pump and pond liners. You’ll also need to feed any fish you keep in the pond and look after the plants all throughout the season.

You can also teach them to value nature by getting them involved with growing new trees and plants. Show them how much care is required for them grow and how they contribute to the environment in more ways than just beauty. This teaches your children the value of responsibility and how even the smallest things need to be taken care of. By teaching your children about responsibility from an early age, you prepare them for the future and teach them good habits that will take them far in life.

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